Cape Town – There are growing recollections of the dubious past of the SA Post Office (Sapo) employee who allegedly confessed to the rape and murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana – which serve as an indictment of the justice system.
When the accused appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate's Court on Monday, it was said he had a previous robbery conviction, but EFF leader Julius Malema, who said yesterday it would help Mrwetyana's family to take action against Sapo and the minister of communications, commented on allegations that he had a "criminal record and a history of murder".
On Thursday, Police Minister Bheki Cele commented on the criminal history of the Khayelitsha man, who appears in court again on November 5 on charges of murder, rape and defeating the ends of justice, when cabinet ministers met various groups taking part in the protest against gender-based violence at Parliament.
Cele said the accused, whose house was burnt down on Monday evening, had a hijacking record, for which he received an eight-year sentence, but "unfortunately he got parole after four years".
The police minister also recounted how the suspect had chased a woman in a hospital in an alleged attempt to rape her on going to visit his girlfriend in hospital. The case was dropped.
"Looking at the profile, nothing gives him (a chance of receiving) bail," Cele said.
On the orders of Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the Sapo board convened a sub-committee to "investigate the circumstances surrounding the implicated employee's appointment".
On Wednesday, Alice Cropper, from Hout Bay, shared a chilling account on social media about how the suspect also assisted her at the Clareinch post office in Claremont and had, similarly to Mrwetyana, been told to "come back in a bit" near closing time – on this occasion because the "card machine is offline" – but she insisted that he try again and luckily it worked without a hitch.
Cropper posted on Facebook: "How was Uyinene raped and murdered in broad daylight at the post office by a government employee (hired despite previous armed robbery and sexual assault charges), right next to the police station? I wonder....
"A few days before, I also went to the Clareinch post office to post some letters for work. There was a man and a woman teller and I went straight to the male teller.
"As I started organising my post, he told me that the card machine is offline, but I should come back in a bit and it will probably be back on and he will help me.
"This was at 4.30pm and the post office was closing in half an hour. I thought about it - I needed to go to the pet store opposite and get Josie some treats, so I could run that errand and pop back, and that's very almost what I did.
"The thing is, I abhor boring admin, avoid government institutions and this stone-age card machine thing was too much for me. I asked him to please just try, just in case, maybe it has come back on while we have been talking.
"He tried my card and it worked with no problem whatsoever. A few minutes later he said he had forgotten to charge for one of the envelopes, so I made a second payment - again, no problems.
"I joked with him that it's my lucky day. I finished my posting, wished him a good afternoon and off I went to the pet store.
"On Monday, the news broke about what had happened to Uyinene at this same post office, how a male worker had told her the power was out, to come back in a bit, how she had done so to find him now alone, where he locked her in, raped and murdered her, smashing her over the head with a set of scales, how she had fought him back and his complaint to the police on confession was: “That child gave me a hard time, she took a long time to die”. Horrendous.
"Then his name was released: L****** B****. I checked my till receipt still on my desk, and felt chills when I realised it was this same person who served me days before.
"So maybe the card machine had been offline and it was a coincidence it suddenly worked (twice) when I tried, I don't know - in land of Load Shedding it is entirely possible.
"But also maybe I could have done my errands and returned as advised, just before closing, and then maybe it would have been me locked in alone with him, pleading and screaming and fighting for life while nobody came. Who knows?"