Pretoria - Residents of “Marikana”, a small township outside Mamelodi East, were up in arms on Tuesday, viciously attacking a man suspected of being behind the disappearance and killings of two Mamelodi women in recent weeks.
Residents believe up to four women may have fallen prey to the man. They identified and located the alleged suspect and marched to the Mamelodi East police station to lay charges.
Police apparently told them to go to Mamelodi West police station, because the incidents were out of their cluster area.
“The guys in the Mamelodi taxi industry could not wait any longer and went to the man’s house,” said Walter Lerumo, one of the community leaders in Mamelodi.
Along with residents, the taxi drivers apparently set the alleged suspect’s house and two cars alight and waited for him to escape.
“He came out through the window and had about 100 angry people waiting for him. They pounced, kicking and punching him,” said Lerumo.
The taxi drivers were angered by the alleged suspect’s modus operandi - pretending to be a taxi driver - which they said tarnished their image and reputation.
Bloodied and dazed, the suspect was taken away by ambulance when the Pretoria News arrived on the scene.
In one of the cars believed to have been used in the alleged kidnappings, residents said they found wire and blood in the boot.
They claimed the blood was that of the victims and the wire was used to tie their limbs.
The alleged suspect was not a resident of Marikana, but was hiding there because of his deeds, they said.
More than 100 residents, including schoolchildren, gathered around the burning house, while some took part in the assault.
Warning messages began spreading on social media last week and had residents on edge after four bodies were discovered.
Residents accuse the man of killing two women, Katlego Ndlovu and Letta Letsoalo, last week.
They claim as many as four women had been killed, but police denied this.
Police spokeswoman Captain Doniah Mothutlane said they couldn’t link the man to the murders yet, and also rejected claims there was a serial killer and rapist on the loose.
“We are investigating whether the cases are linked. We are waiting for post-mortem results to find out how the women died. We appeal to the community to come forward with any information.”
Mothutlane also urged the community to remain calm.
Lizzy Malinga, a resident in Marikana, said: “We are happy and relieved that we found this killer. We couldn’t use taxis anymore.”
She said they believed the alleged suspect operated in a syndicate and that there were more culprits who helped him.
Katlego Ndlovu’s family demanded that justice be done and for their daughter’s killer to be found. On Tuesday last week, Ndlovu’s naked and battered body was found near a reservoir in Mamelodi after she had disappeared the night before.
Her aunt, Petunia Chauke, said: “On the Monday evening after work she went out with her boyfriend to Sunnyside. The boyfriend said that after the evening out, they caught a taxi to Mamelodi and then a cab to the house.”
That was the last time the 23-year-old was seen alive.
“The boyfriend told us that the taxi driver said he knew her and they lived in the same area. He suggested they drop off the boyfriend at home first and then her,” Chauke said.
When Ndlovu did not arrive home, the boyfriend called her mother and they went to open a missing person case at the local police station. The couple had been dating for a month.
“Police told us that they could not open the case because she had only been missing for a few hours. In the morning, her naked body was discovered next to a reservoir,” she said.
Ndlovu had been stripped naked and strangled.
Mpho Seerane, who discovered the body, said that at about midnight on Monday they heard a car driving around. Seerane’s house is next to the reservoir. “The next morning my nephew found the body. He called us and we called the police who did not come.”
After an hour, they decided to go to the police station.
Talking about the family trauma, Chauke said: “The police told us that she was strangled with razor wire, but they were still awaiting the post-mortem results. I washed her body (at the mortuary). There were two gaping holes below her chin and burn marks on her thighs. It looked like she was burnt with a blowtorch,” she said.
Chauke said from information they received, the taxi driver fit the description of the taxi driver who was their neighbour.
Ndlovu was buried on Saturday.
“On the day of the funeral, the taxi driver drove past our house. Some people followed him and they found razor wire in his car,” Chauke said. “We called the police and they said they could not arrest him because there was nothing linking him to the case,” she said.
The same man is also accused of killing Letsoalo, 24, last Tuesday. Her brother Tebogo Letsoalo said: “My sister was on her way way to work and took a local taxi (sedan). That was the last time she was seen.”
Letta’s body was found next to a dumping site. “My sister was kidnapped, raped and killed. She leaves behind a son who is 15 months old.”
On Tuesday, the community turned on the alleged suspect and assaulted him. “I do not know if he is the one who killed her, but if he is, then justice must be done,” Chauke said.