Cape Town - Khangayi Sedumedi’s family nickname was “Jesus” when I first met him more than a decade ago - but this week he was given seven life sentences plus 40 years for kidnapping, robbing, raping and murdering six women and a teen in Cape Town between 2011 and 2015.
In those years, he was the feared, faceless Century City serial killer who operated in what news reports at the time called a “triangle of death” that straddled open ground abutting the Century City train station on the fringe of neighbouring Kensington.
At that time I even shared a bed with Sedumedi on occasion in his two-roomed backyard flat. Living with him were five female cousins and an aunt. I was dating one of his cousins, Thandeka Mafuya, who today is my wife. There were young girls living there, too - one of whom was my daughter, then aged 6.
When I first met Sedumedi around 2003, we hit it off instantly. He welcomed me as a brother and he fondly called me TaTibo.
He and I shared a passion - our love for Orlando Pirates Football Club. And he was fond of his cousins, whom he would often compliment. Before they could say “Thank you”, though, he’d be halfway to the gate, He was a man of few words.
But there was nothing to suggest anything was amiss. I never saw any women’s clothing or pictures or anything else that might have aroused my suspicion. Nor did he do anything to threaten or harm the women around him.
No one in the family or neighbours remembers him bringing a female friend home and in the 10 years I knew him, I never heard him mention a girlfriend.
He was a loner. He didn’t like to be around people. He was so shy he never wanted his picture taken - and none of his relatives has a photograph of him.
No one ever made anything of it, but Sedumedi used to disappear for weeks and even months and then return and simply say, “I was around.”
He disappeared for almost a year in 2012, returning in 2013 claiming he’d been in France.
In spite of his strange behaviour and disappearing acts, Sedumedi was a hard worker and an ambitious person. I recall on my second graduation he said: “TaTibo, in 10 years I would like to be like you, so how can I do it?”
These were also the words which I am told he said to his auntie Ronny – that he would pursue his studies – after he was sentenced and led away.
I, along with other members of his family, were shattered by the revelations that the man we affectionately called “Jesus” was actually the opposite.
There is no justification for what he did. For us, the tormenting questions are, why did he do this? Were there any signs that this guy could have done this?
And, do some wonder whether, as a family, we knowingly kept quiet out of loyalty to him?
I would like the world to know my family won’t rest until we get answers in order for us and the victims’ families to find closure. Sedumedi’s aunt, Cecilia, spoke for all of us when she said: “I am shocked and disappointed about what Khangayi did to these girls after I raised him with ubuntu and as my own son. To do such a thing… I do not have enough words to express my deepest sympathy to the victims’ families.
“I hope one day he will talk and tell us what happened so that we can all know the truth. I wish someone knows where his mother is, so that she can come out, see and hear what her son has done.”
Khangayi was born as Kangai (a Shona name given by his Shona father, Adam Wapaka, which his Xhosa relatives pronounce as Khangayi).
His mother, Jacqueline Sedumedi, disappeared in 1990 and the family still does not know what happened to her.
Sedumedi was raised by his late grandmother, who used to take him to church services regularly, and his aunts and his cousins in Gugulethu.
His cousin Thandeka Mpofu said the name “Jesus” was given by his childhood friends.
“The name ‘Jesus’ came about because he was the type of person who would not get angry, no matter what you said or did to him.
“I remember as we were growing up I would eat my aunt’s sugar and she would complain and shout about it. She would call us both and I would say it’s not me and he (Khangayi) would be quiet and not respond and for that he would end up being shouted at.
“With friends he was the same – he was the kind of boy who never fights with others; he would just cry.”
Our family was shocked when the investigating officer told us Khangayi was wanted for the crimes committed in the Century City area.
We called the police when he came home one night and that was how he came to be arrested.
We did this as law-abiding citizens in order to prevent any more crime and hoped he would clear his name in court.
* On his arrest, Sedumedi, 32, was found in possession of some of his victims’ belongings. DNA and cellphone records also linked him to the 23 charges. He pleaded guilty to 21 and two were withdrawn.