Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Moses Sithole

Phone Calls

Moses Sithole
Moses Sithole

A handbag was recovered from the Boksburg scene and inside it police found an identity document. This enabled them to identify one of the victims, Amelia Rapodile, quite rapidly. Tracing her last known movements, they learned from her coworkers that she had had an appointment with a man named Moses Sithole (Sit-TALL-lee) on Sept. 7. This was the day on which she had disappeared. Detectives also obtained an application form for Sitholes Youth Against Human Abuse organization, in which he had offered Amelia a position. When they tracked down the phone number on the application form, they met a woman named Kwazi Sithole in Wattville, an area southeast of Boksburg. She was Moses sister, but he did not live there and she did not know where he was.

When Tryphina Mogotsi was identified not long after, detectives were quite certain that they had the right suspect. Tryphina had been a laundry worker at Kids Haven, an organization helping street children in Benoni, which is a town just east of Boksburg. Siphiwe Ngwenya told them that a man had visited Kids Haven and told them about possible jobs at his organisation called Youth Against Human Abuse. He had spoken to Tryphina as well, who was very excited when she told Siphiwe of an appointment they had made to further discuss the offer. Moira Simpson, a social worker, confirmed that Moses Sithole had visited Kids Haven twice. The first time he was accompanied by a photographer from The Star and two destitute teenage girls, to be taken into the home. On the second occasion he came alone, producing the newspaper article written about his Youth Against Human Abuse organization, and told her that he wanted to organise a fund raiser for street children. A few days later, Tryphina went missing.

Despite the tremendous press coverage of the bodies found near Boksburg, substantial rewards being offered for information and even a plea from President Mandela that communities aid the police in their investigation, the killer was unfazed. After all, he was probably feeling pretty omnipotent by now. A mere week after the discovery of the ten bodies at the Van Dyk Mine became widely known, 20-year-old Agnes Sibongile Mbuli disappeared on her way to meet a friend. Her body was found on Oct. 3 at Kleinfontein train station near Benoni.

On the same day, a man called the office of The Star and spoke with a reporter there. Tamsen de Beer answered the phone. The man said that his name was Joseph Magwena, and he was the Gauteng serial killer (Gauteng is the name of the province in which Johannesburg and Pretoria are located). In I Have Lived in the Monster, Robert Ressler notes the callers specific words: I am the man that is so highly wanted. He told her that he wanted to surrender. The reporter typed out the conversation and contacted the police. The man phoned another three times during Oct., and these calls were recorded by the police. In these four conversations, Joseph provided some detailed information about the murders. He said that he began killing after a woman had falsely accused him of rape, for which he was convicted and imprisoned. While in jail, he suffered abuse at the hands of fellow prisoners. I force a woman to go where I want and when I go there I tell them: Do you know what? I was hurt, so Im doing it now. Then I kill them. He stated that he used the victims clothing to strangle them, and preferred underwear because it left no fingerprints. He had used an area near Boksburg for an extended period, but of course anyone reading the newspapers knew this by now. Continuing, however, he said that these women saw the other victims before they died. Although he accepted responsibility for the murders in Pretoria, Atteridgeville and Boksburg, he denied any involvement in the Cleveland killings. He also vehemently denied killing Letta Ndlangamandla, and in particular her 2-year-old son, stating that he loved children. He provided other specifics as well, including the location of a body the police had not yet found, and the detectives believed that the caller was indeed the killer.

Meanwhile, along with the body of an unidentified woman found near Jupiter train station, as per the directions provided by Joseph, on Oct. 9, Beauty Ntombi Ndabenis body was discovered in Germiston on Oct. 11, the day after she went missing. A comb had been used to tighten her pantyhose around her neck.

Ultimately, Tamsen de Beer (working with the investigating team) organized a meeting with Joseph at a train station, but it did not work out the way the detectives had hoped. They decided that it was time for more aggressive tactics, and a picture of their prime suspect, Moses Sithole, was published in newspapers on Oct. 13. They appealed to the public to come forth with any information they might have on this man.

The next day, a body was found at the Village Main Reef Mine near Johannesburg. Shoelaces had been used to bind her neck to a tree. This woman has never been identified.

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