Police detective Ernest Villet leads the alleged serial rapist to the holding cells. Picture: Piet Smit

Cape Town - Four men killed by their communities for allegedly raping women were not the perpetrators.

On Tuesday, the police arrested a man on 23 charges of rape, including those the four had been accused of, police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said.

The arrest of a 33-year-old suspect came after painstaking work done over the past five years. The police’s forensic’s laboratory linked the suspect to 23 rape cases, she said.

The crimes were committed over a number of years and most victims were between 18 and 28.

Most of the rapes happened in Delft and Khayelitsha, Rwexana said.

Police had questioned two suspects after allegations by the community that they were involved, Rwexana said.

They could not be linked to the rapes, but after their release they were killed by the community, she said.

Two other men also accused by their community of raping women were also killed.

“It is now proven that all four these deceased were not involved in the crimes as alleged by the community. The SAPS continues to condemn in the strongest terms the killing of innocent people at the hands of community members,” Rwexana said.

The suspect was arrested in the Epping industrial area after the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences provincial task team had conducted extensive investigations over five years.

Rwexana said he allegedly approached his victims, threatened them, robbed them of their jewellery and money, then dragged them into the bush.

Seven victims have been traced thus far.

Cape Times