The owner of a sugar cane farm on which the bodies of five women have been found in recent months is offering a reward for information that could lead to the arrest of the killers and is also engaging the services of private investigators.
Siyabonga Gasa said he wanted to find the person/s responsible for the murder of the women in the Turton area of uMthwalume on the South Coast.
On Tuesday Zama Chiliza’s corpse was found in bushes not far from his sugar cane field. As the police combed the area for clues yesterday, they stumbled on the body of yet another woman in the same vicinity.
“People can’t go on like this. By last month three young women were found dead in the field and now in two days two more bodies are found in the same vicinity. This is very disturbing. I hope that the R20000 reward and the involvement of private investigators will assist in bringing the culprit/s to book. People are scared, they have lost hope and the lack of progress in the matter is not making it any easier for them to go about their daily routines,” Gasa said.
Last month, the Daily News reported the discovery of the bodies of Nelisiwe Dube, 26, and Akhona Phehlukwayo, 24, by hunters in the sugar cane field on April 25, while that of 16-year-old Nosipho Gumede was found last month. All were from the same village.
Yesterday, Gumede’s aunt Nonhlanhla Ngongoma said Police Minister Bheki Cele’s intervention was needed under the circumstances.
“We are still in shock and yet more bodies of young women are retrieved from the same vicinity. Whoever is behind this has traumatised the entire village and we are yet to get a progress report from the police about these brutal killings,” Ngongoma said.
“This is adding salt to our still raw wounds. I was at the scene when Nosipho was found. She had missing body parts (her tongue, eyes and genitals were removed). How many more must die before our government takes this seriously? We are under siege. Can it be a coincidence that so many people would be killed and dumped in the same vicinity?”
Chiliza, 38, is believed to have been returning from the local clinic when she was killed. Her body was found by a woman collecting wood, who informed local Community Police Forum chairperson Lucky Bhuyeni of her gruesome discovery.
“We went to the scene on Tuesday. Yesterday as the police combed the area for more clues, they stumbled on another corpse. This is scary. We suspect that whoever is behind this finds a way of hiding the bodies in this area. This area is secluded. The last three victims were sexually violated and we will wait for the outcomes of the autopsies on the latest victims. The community has lost hope in the police to the extent that last month there was a march against the manner in which these killings are being handled. Leaders of the march were arrested,” Bhuyeni said.
IFP Ugu district chairperson Sfundo Ngwane said the latest discoveries reaffirmed the community’s suspicion of a serial killer roaming their village.
“It is unfortunate that we have exhausted all means of working with Hibberdene Police station who arrested community members who were protesting against the killing of women,” he said.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said all the cases had been assigned to a single investigating officer and the District Commander for Detectives was monitoring the investigation.
“We are also roping in our Investigative Psychology Section for assistance. At this stage, we cannot confirm if the same perpetrator/s is/are responsible for the incidents,” she said.