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Hermanus - An alleged serial rapist has been arrested in Hermanus on the Southern Cape coast east of Cape Town, Western Cape police said on Sunday.

"Crimes against women and children are on top of our list as priority crimes and every endeavour will be made to apprehend perpetrators, as indicated with the arrest of a serial rapist in Hermanus recently," Captain FC van Wyk said.

"During the period September 2015 until March 2018 a suspected serial rapist has been operating in the Zwelihle, Hermanus area. During March 2016 the dockets were handed over to the serial and electronic crimes investigations (Seci) FCS [family violence, child protection, and sexual offences] unit for  further investigation.

"By that time there were five cases with the same modus operandi. All the cases were linked with the same DNA. The identity of the suspect was unknown. According to the victims an unknown male in his mid to late 20s approaches them while they are walking alone in the Zwelihle informal settlement," Van Wyk said.

"He then forces them, mostly with a knife, to walk with him to a deserted area where they are robbed and raped. Most of the crime scenes were at an old dumping area known as the 'MOP'. In most cases the suspect had a balaclava or stocking over his face, which made identity of the suspect very difficult."

During the following months more similar cases were reported. On March 3 another rape was reported with the same modus operandi. On March 4 members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Hermanus were on patrol when they spotted a suspicious man in the vicinity of the “MOP”. They arrested the 29-year-old man and detained him at Hermanus in connection with the latest rape case. He was found in possession of a balaclava, a stocking, a knife, and a roll of toilet paper, Van Wyk said.

"Due to a lack of evidence he was subsequently released. Fortunately a buccal swab was taken from him and sent to the forensic science laboratory. On [May 24] the DNA result linked the suspect to 11 cases. The next day the suspect was arrested and appeared in Hermanus court on Monday, [May 28] for his first appearance. The case was postponed to [June 4] and he will remain in custody," Van Wyk said.

African News Agency/ANA