Morne and Celeste Nurse, the parents of Zephany Nurse who was abducted 17 years ago and now found, speak to journalists during a press conference at the SABC studios in Sea Point. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
Morne and Celeste Nurse, the parents of Zephany Nurse who was abducted 17 years ago and now found, speak to journalists during a press conference at the SABC studios in Sea Point. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Hooked on true crime after Devilsdorp? Here are 7 crimes shook the Western Cape in recent years

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 20, 2021

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'Devilsdorp', a new documentary series on Showmax about a series of murders that rocked Krugersdorp in 2016, has captivated South African audiences.

All together, 11 murders were carried out by members of a cult-like religious group, known as Electus Per Deus (Chosen by God), under the leadership of Cecilia Steyn, between 2011 and 2016.

The Krugersdorp murders, however, are not the only headline-grabbing crimes South Africans have seen over the past few years.

Here’s a look at some of cases that dominated headlines in Western Cape in recent years:

Century City serial killer murdered rape victims to protect his identity

The body of a woman was discovered in a bushy area near Acre Road in the Kensington area while police were conducting aninvestigation in the vicinity. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency

Century City serial killer Khangayi Sedumedi is spending the rest of his life behind bars, after he was sentenced him to seven life terms, plus 40 years’ imprisonment in 2016.

Sedumedi, a security guard, pleaded guilty to 21 of the 23 charges which included rape, murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault and kidnapping. Two of the charges were withdrawn.

In a plea and sentence agreement, Sedumedi described how he came upon his victims, admitting most were “random”. Many were young jobseekers, and Sedumedi approached them under the pretext that he knew of job opportunities.

Subsequently, he would contact them and pretend he had secured job interviews for them on specific dates. He would then ambush them on their way to the fictitious interview. He admitted that, in certain instances, he used a toy gun to force them into submission and tied them up.

He said that when he made contact with his victims he did so “with the intent to rape them”.

He further admitted that he killed the last four victims so that they could not identify him.

'Closet killer' gets 30 years for murder and robbery spree

Ziyaad Haywood, 35, sentenced at High Court

The notorious “closet killer”, Ziyaad Haywood, was sentenced to 30 years in prison last year after pleading guilty in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

Nearly five years after the Lotus River man went on a robbery and killing spree, he confessed to the murders of three men and attempted murder of a woman.

Haywood, 35, appeared before Judge John Hlophe who sentenced him to three life terms after he entered into a plea deal.

Relieved relatives of the victims labelled him as “the face of evil”.

Haywood, who was on the Top 10 most wanted list in the Western Cape after killing a security guard in 2016, pleaded guilty to all 21 charges on the indictment, including murder, kidnapping and robbery.

He managed to evade police for years, but was caught hiding in a cupboard in his parents’ room in July 2018 by Grassy Park cops who were suspicious of the locked cupboard and broke it open.

He was sentenced to 211 years, but as they will run concurrently, he will spend 30 years behind bars.

The abduction and reappearance of Zephany Nurse

The Nurse family would hold a small party every year for their daughter, Zephany Nurse, during the time she was missing. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

Zephany Nurse, who was stolen from Groote Schuur Hospital in 1997 when she was three days old, grew up with a different name, thinking the people she lived with were her biological parents.

For 18 years, Celeste and Morné Nurse never knew where their daughter was. In a twist of fate, they were reunited with her in 2015 after Zephany and her younger biological sister were enrolled at the same school and learners remarked how alike they looked.

Morné and Celeste invited Zephany for tea. DNA tests later proved she was their child.

The couple, who went on to have three more children, divorced in 2014.

The woman born as Zephany Nurse, who has come forward and publicly claimed her identity as Miché Solomon, says she harbours no ill feelings towards either her kidnapper or her biological parents.

Her kidnapper, Levona Solomons, a Lavender Hill resident in her fifties, was convicted for kidnapping, fraud and contravening the Children’s Act in 2016, each charge carrying a maximum 10-year jail sentence.

The convicted kidnapper denied stealing the baby and said she was given the baby by another woman at the hospital.

The life and death of Hard Livings gang boss Rashied Staggie

Staggie sitting in the back of the car. A black VW escorting Rashied Staggie out of Pollsmoor Prison when he was released on parole. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency

In 2003, Rashied Staggie was sentenced to jail after he was convicted for ordering the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 15 years for kidnapping and rape.

The woman, a police informer, testified that Staggie took her to an isolated spot in August 2001, and forced her at gunpoint to have sex with three men.

In July 2013, the then 28-year-old woman and mother of six was shot three times in an alleged revenge attack by the Hard Livings.

In September 2013, after serving 10 years, Staggie was released by the Department of Correctional Services, for good behaviour.

Before his release, Staggie converted to Christianity and apologised for his past sins.

Before that, in 2004, he was also sentenced to 13 years after he was found guilty of burglary at the Faure police armoury.

Rashied Staggie was killed in an alleged assassination in London Road, Salt River, in December 2019.

Joostenberg Vlakte massacre

Forensic detectives at the scene in Joostenberg Vlakte where bodies were found in the veld. Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams/African News Agency

Fourteen Kraaifontein men were sentenced to more than 1 000 years’ imprisonment earlier this year after the Western Cape High Court convicted them on several counts of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder and murder.

On December 10, 2014, six young men – Zola Gayiya, Emanuel Barnes, Sandile Ngxabela, Sakhele Ngxabela , Lulama Dunga and Mhlanganisi Mljanjeni – were kidnapped and murdered by the accused in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein.

They were accused of robbing and killing Tsutsutsu Ntsundu, from Engcobo, the Eastern Cape, while he was on his way home from work. Ntsundu, a security guard, was targeted for his firearm.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Ntsundu was a ’’homeboy of the accused’’.

They had decided to take the law into their own hands and kidnapped the six men and took them to a field in Joostenberg Vlakte where they were stoned, stabbed with sharp objects and left for dead. Their bodies were discovered with their hands and feet tied.

Anni Hindocha: Honeymoon horror

Anni Hindocha

Swedish engineer Anni Hindocha married British businessman Shrien Dewani in a lavish three-day ceremony. This was meant to be the beginning of a beautiful life together, and a honeymoon in Cape Town was the perfect start to their new life.

Their honeymoon started with a quick trip to the Kruger National Park, where they stayed until November 12, 2010.

The couple flew into the city and were picked up by taxi driver Zola Tongo, who would become a central figure in the tragedy about to unfold in one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Less than 24 hours later, on November 13, 2010, Anni died in the back of an abandoned minibus in Lingelethu West, from a gunshot wound to the neck.

It appeared that she was the victim of a hijacking which had gone horribly wrong. Police quickly pounced on three men, Xolile Mngeni, Mziwamadoda Qwabe and hotel receptionist Monde Mbolombo. They admitted being involved in the deadly hijacking.

Qwabe said they were hired by the billionaire businessman to kill his wife.

Qwabe and taxi driver Tongo were offered reduced sentences in exchange for pleading guilty.

Shrien Dewani in the Western Cape High Court. File picture: Brenton Geach/African News Agency

Xolile Mngeni, who claimed he was tortured into confessing, was also eventually convicted of Anni's murder.

Mbolombo turned State witness and thus escaped prosecution. Although three men were behind bars for the murder/hijack plot, the case was far from over.

Police accused Dewani of offering the trio R15 000 to have his bride murdered.

In 2014, after a long battle to have him brought from England to South Africa to stand trial, he was acquitted after the court found there was insufficient evidence.

Anni's family believe that Shrien Dewani has not come clean about his alleged role in her murder, and they continue to seek justice.

The disappearance and murder of Courtney Pieters

The body of three-year-old Courtney Pieters was found in a shallow grave in Epping, 1km a kilometre from her home in Elsies River. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Mortimer Saunders was found guilty of the premeditated murder and rape of three-year-old Courtney Pieters in the Western Cape High Court in November 2018.

Judge Babalwa Mantame said the crimes Saunders committed were the “most vicious, vile, ruthless and evil murder the court has ever seen”.

Courtney went missing from her family home in Salberau, Elsies River on May 4, 2017. Her disappearance sparked a massive search with volunteers from other Cape Flats communities joining police to help find the girl.

During the nine days Courtney as missing, several vigils were held to pray for her safe return. Her body was found dumped in Epping Industria.

Video footage taken from CCTV cameras in the area shows a man, whom police identified as a close friend of the murdered child's family, dumping her body on a rubbish heap.

Mortimer Saunders, the man who rented a room in her family's home was arrested for her murder after police receive an anonymous tip-off. He was wearing the same clothes as the suspect seen dumping the body on the CCTV footage.

During his trial, Saunders admitted that he poisoned the child because he had "ill feelings" toward her mother, Juanita Pieters. He said he never intended to kill Courtney.

Mortimer Saunders in the Western Cape High Court where he stood trial for the murder and rape of three-year-old Courtney Pieters of Elsies River. Picture: Noor Slamdien/African News Agency (ANA)

Shocked by the Devilsdorp doccie series? Here are 8 other court cases that have rocked SA”.

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