Johannesburg - An investigation into a young woman's disappearance after meeting a man on Facebook led Mpumalanga police to the home of a suspected serial killer.
The woman had gone missing in May after meeting Thabiso Mndawe, 25, on Facebook.
"Information at police's disposal suggests that the couple had reportedly met through social media and eventually ended up at the suspect's house where they had an argument that led to the woman being killed," Brigadier Leonard Hlathi of the Mpumalanga police told The Star.
"The suspect then reportedly buried her body next to a pit toilet in the yard."
Hlathi said police visited Ndawe's house as part of their investigation into the disappearance of the woman but the 25-year-old man escaped through a window upon their arrival.
"His mother then brought him to the police station where he was taken into custody. He first appeared at the Masoyi Periodical Court on July 5 facing a murder charge, (and) was remanded in custody pending a bail application on July 17.
Hlathi said in a dramatic twist of events, Mndawe not only confessed to having killed the missing woman but also told police that he had killed four other women and buried them in his yard after raping them. The women were aged between 15 and 24 years.
The second woman's body was exhumed on July 12.
"He then confessed and pointed out the (other) three bodies that were exhumed on Sunday."
Hlathi said all the victims were known to Mndawe and he is alleged to have told police that he had killed the women after flying into a rage when they made demands from him. One of the man's alleged victims was his girlfriend's 15-year-old sister.
"He killed them in the most brutal manner. They were brutally assaulted and also strangled. One was even drowned," Hlathi said.
He also said Mndawe, who is believed to be a security guard, buried the bodies in the afternoon.
"He is someone who liked working in the yard so when people saw him digging, they did not suspect anything," he said.
The enraged community torched Mndawe's house after the discovery of the bodies.
Mndawe is facing five counts of murder, violation of a corpse and concealment of a body as well as rape. He was to appear on Tuesday.
Mpumalanga Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mondli Zuma commended the police for a job well done but said he was perturbed by the incessant torching of houses in the Masoyi area the community after incidences of murder.
"What is saddening regarding the torching of the houses where persons believed to be responsible for crimes, is that more often than not, these houses do not belong to the alleged perpetrators, but to their parents and/or their relatives.
"Several houses have been torched after the alleged perpetrators have either, also been killed mob justice style, or arrested. "This tendency is not only an illegal practice but also a travesty of justice in that vital evidence that may have been in the house could be destroyed, thereby destroying prospects of a conviction", Zuma said.