KZN’s gruesome crimes against women and children
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Durban - KwaZulu Natal has seen some gruesome murders of young women and children, particularly in the last six months. In the majority of these cases, police have not made any arrests.
Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli said the country’s dire economic outlook had been worsened by the Covid- 19 pandemic and he believed there was a link between unemployment, poverty and social ills.
When asked to profile some of these recent murders, especially the cases where the female victims’ bodies were mutilated, Witness Maluleka, a rural criminologist and senior lecturer at the University of Limpopo’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, warned of a possible serial killer on the prowl.
The Daily News examined some of these cases.
On November 1, 23- year- old Jessica Merle Leanne Weyer went missing. Her body was found the next day in a sports field in Inanda.
She was found by locals with her hands cut off and her throat slit. Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said they were still investigating. No arrests had been made.
A week later, the headless body of an unknown woman washed up at Cuttings Beach. Her hands and feet were cut off and her intestines had been removed.
Gwala said there had been no arrests and police were investigating an inquest docket. The woman still had not been identified.
Two days later, another woman’s body, that of Snegugu Linda, 19, was found with her heart ripped out of her chest and parts of her digestive system next to her body in Hammarsdale. She had been pregnant and the foetus was removed, but never found.
“No arrests have been made and we are still investigating,” said Gwala.
In October, Owesihle Mdlalose, 11, was raped and killed in Newcastle. She was discovered in a bedroom in her home with multiple stab wounds.
Police have asked for assistance in finding 22- year- old Thamsanqa Cele who they believed could assist in the murder case. He has not been found.
Also in October, the bodies of mother and daughter Smangele Smamane, 41, and Sibonga Mthembu, 13, were found dumped near the Mgeni River in Kwadabeka.
Two weeks later, the burnt body of a woman was found in Woody Glen, Hammarsdale. It is suspected she had also been a victim of rape.
“In both cases there have been no arrests and we are still investigating. The woman found in Woody Glen had not been identified pending DNA results,” said Gwala at the time.
The Daily News subsequently reported that the woman found in Wood Glen was identified as Nomvuselelo Ngcobo, 31. Her sister had confirmed the identity when she saw the body.
In September, two suspects were arrested in two separate cases where toddlers were raped and killed.
On December 10, a Mount Royal man is expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court charged with the murder of a mother and her 2- year- old child.
The 62- year- old man allegedly killed his lover and her daughter with a bush knife on September 30.
Six days before, 4- year- old Sanelisiwe Mhlongo was raped and killed, allegedly by a 15- year- old boy. Her body was found in the bushes near her home on Vemvane Road, M Section, Kwamashu.
She had been stabbed several times and also had a head injury.
Maluleka said the collecting of body parts worried him.
“I would advise people in the identified and immediate areas to be extra careful, as the listed crimes might be committed by serial killers, very dangerous ones. For recourse, the community must change their lifestyles.
“The violent potential offenders should be swiftly identified through the application of intelligence- led policing by relevant stakeholders, drug abuse should be avoided at all costs, more especially alcohol, and the knowledge of self- defence can also aid positively to this course,” Maluleka said.
Regarding reasons why these crimes were so violent, he said there was no easy answer.
“However, it can be stated that our conservative culture, patriarchy, and the idea of women being there to serve the needs of men, provocation and alcohol abuse were some reasons. In some instances when an offender was a victim of violence himself or herself it can be done as ways of solving personal or societal problems.
“The subculture of violence and the notion that violent and aggressive behaviour is learned are contributory factors to this scourge. Also, notable abuse in families leads to generational trauma and this trauma might contribute to gendered violence and sexual assaults,” he said.
Looking at the cases last month where police had not made arrests, Maluleka believed that they were not all committed by the same offender.
“However, mutilation could either be a serial killer or a muti murderer. The removal of hands, intestines and a foetus in the indicated cases shows a high level of planning. The hands being missing could be a sort of trophy collecting. The November cases show a level of excessive planning and the collection cases are often conducted by very dangerous and organised offenders."
All these murders, which made news headlines, took place in areas where there were active community policing forums ( CPFS).
When Police Minister Bheki Cele released the quarterly crime statistics last month, he said more needed to be done to strengthen CPFS.
Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Ntuli said the department embarked on a robust crime prevention strategy through the launch of the ethekwini Community Safety Forum and Local Drug Action Committees in Durban.
“Owing to budgetary constraints and the fact that the Department of Community Safety and Liaison engages regularly with the 184 CPFS across all districts in the province and has a good working relationship with members of the CPFS there is no planned date for a provincial imbizo/ symposium.”
He said the department’s budget was focused on localised regular engagements with CPFS, “which have proven to be more effective as they address localised and specific issues … any intervention or plan of action is tailored to address those issues as opposed to a generic blanket approach”.
Ntuli said the country’s dire economic outlook had been worsened by Covid- 19 and there was a link between unemployment, poverty and social ills.
“This has a direct impact on rising crime levels and social disorder in our province as well as abuse against women and children. The abuse against women is a violation of human rights. Rape, femicide and gender- based violence is regarded as a fundamental threat to national security and I have tasked law enforcement agencies in our province to deal with these cases as a priority crime,” Ntuli said.
In a bid to deal with these societal issues, the department hosted a virtual symposium in August titled "Strengthening action against sexual offences and gender- based violence: Leadership, Accountability, Successes and Challenges".
Police, academics, a GBV survivor, as well as Ntuli, featured at this symposium.
“The programme was timely. In September, the Cabinet approved the Provincial Gender- Based Violence Turnaround Plan which seeks to address GBV and make a concerted effort to reduce this scourge in society,” Ntuli said. “We also call on neighbours and family not to turn a blind eye when they witness GBV.”
The Daily News