902 A crime scene expert takes pictures of the scene on 7th street in Linden where 3 men tried to hijack a woman after a chase with the police that started in Robindale. 190208. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Durban - A homeless woman was found raped and murdered under trees near the intersection of Florida and Musgrave roads in Durban on Tuesday.

She was found by a car guard during the morning rush hour.

For several hours, coffee shop patrons and joggers watched as detectives combed the scene around the body, which was covered in yellow plastic.

The woman died in one of Durban’s most-policed communities, close to King’s House and across the road from Mitchell and Jameson parks.

Provincial police spokesman Thulani Zwane said she appeared to be in her forties and had been mutilated.

The car guard, who asked not to be identified, said he knew the woman by sight.

“We didn’t know each other by name, but it was someone I saw every day for the past two years. She was harmless,” he said.

Zwane said the motive for the killing was unknown and no arrests had been made.

Morningside councillor Lukas Meyer said the “cruel” attack had upset residents.

“Florida Road is perceived to be one of the most-policed areas because it is part of the Urban Improvement Precinct (UIP),” he said.

He said there had been a spike in burglaries in the area.

“The Berea police are chronically under-resourced. We’ll be taking this up with them and the provincial police leadership.”

Florida Road UIP precinct manager Gray Braatvedt said the woman was a “known” vagrant.

Kevin Dunkley of the Save Our Berea campaign lashed out at the government for neglecting the “vulnerable”.

“The problem is twofold: residents don’t want vagrants for obvious reasons, and it is the state’s constitutional responsibility to take care of the vulnerable. But it’s failing them and now one of them is dead. This (incident) reflects badly on all of us,” he said.

The Mercury