Pretoria - A well-groomed, self-confessed serial rapist and killer stunned the Pretoria High Court court on Monday when he explained what led to his evil deeds, saying he had different reasons for killing each of the women, but that in each case he had become annoyed with them.
John Mabuti Sape, 41, of Mokopane, told the court he had strangled his first victim with her scarf after raping her.
He strangled his second victim with the cord of her cellphone charger after raping her. To strangle his third victim, he used a shoelace. He said although they had sex, he did not rape her because she “was a prostitute”.
The family of Sape’s first victim, Agnes Masemola, an Atteridgeville school teacher, had been the proverbial Good Samaritans as they had taken Sape in to live with him.
He was a stranger to them, but they felt sorry for him and gave him a roof over his head.
Agnes Masemola was killed during the second week of Sape living with her and her husband and her parents.
Sape told the court that Masemola had asked him – on October 20, 2001 – to fetch her husband from a shebeen.
They returned home and continued drinking, he said.
“I believed her husband suspected I was involved in a relationship with the deceased.
“He was upset that I fetched him from the shebeen and this resulted in a fistfight.”
Sape said the husband left the house to sleep at another place and he was left alone with Masemola. He said he told the woman that she was the reason why he had become embroiled in a fight with her husband.
“I was aggressive and upset because of the fight. I grabbed her and forced her on to the bed. I forcefully had sex with her and because I realised she could tell her husband, I decided to kill her.
“I grabbed the scarf which was around her head and strangled her until she no longer breathed.”
Sape said he then went drinking at a shebeen and sold two watches he found in the house for money.
He said he had reported to the police station the next morning when he heard the woman was dead.
He was arrested, but the case against him was later withdrawn.
He killed his next victim nearly four years later.
Rebecca Madiba, of Mokopane, was also a teacher and he strangled her with the cord of her cellphone charger.
Sape said he also became annoyed with her, as he knew her well, but she rejected him, saying she had heard that he had killed a woman.
“She said she wanted nothing to do with me. I lost my temper, grabbed her and pushed her to the floor of her bedroom. I forcefully undressed her and raped her. I, in a state of anger, grabbed her cellphone charger out of an electrical outlet and strangled her.
“I do not know how long this took, but I realised after a while that she had passed away.”
Sape was not arrested for this murder and six months later, on March 14, 2006, he strangled his next victim with a shoelace.
He said Lindiwe Masangu was a prostitute and he killed her at the Nest Inn in what was then Andries Street in Pretoria.
Sape said he got a room and paid Masangu for her services before they engaged in sex.
She claimed to have locked the room and insisted that the lights be switched off.
Sape said he wanted to smoke a cigarette after sex, but realised his cigarettes and purse were missing. He immediately realised Masangu had pulled a stunt by leaving the door open and darkening the room, as someone had come in to steal his belongings.
“This is a common occurrence at brothels,” he said. “I became angry and lost my temper. I took a shoelace and strangled her. I don’t know for how long, but I realised after a while she was dead.”
Following his guilty plea, Judge Selby Baqwa convicted him on three counts of murder, two of rape and two of theft.
Johanna Gwangwa, sister of Agnes Masemola, said she “had a bad feeling” when her family took him in.
“The family are terribly traumatised by her death and her two children have to grow up without a mother.
“He never even apologised,” she said.
Julia Madiba, sister of Rebecca, said her sister’s three children are now virtually orphans.
“The manner in which my sister was killed is very painful to us.
“He is a brutal man who never once said he was sorry for what he had done,” she said.
Sape will be sentenced on Tuesday.