A.K.A.: "The Monster of Tholeni"
Classification: Serial killer
Number of victims: 20
Date of murders: 2007 - 2012
Date of arrest: August 12, 2012
Date of birth: 1974
Victims profile: Women and children
Method of murder: Stabbing with a bush knife - Beating with an axe
Location: Tholeni, Butterworth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Status: Sentenced to 25 life sentences on September 3, 2013
'Monster of Tholeni' gets 25 life terms
By Lebogang Seale - Iol.co.za
September 4, 2013
Mthatha - For five years, Bulelani Mabhayi terrorised the rural villagers of Tholeni in the Eastern Cape, preying on vulnerable women and children, who he raped and, in some cases, hacked to death.
On Tuesday, Mthatha High Court Judge Noluthando Conjwa sentenced him to 25 life sentences for 25 crimes committed between 2007 and 2012. Each of the sentences are to run concurrently, amounting to 625 years.
“Mr Mabhayi, you are definitely not a person that society needs… Between 2007 and 2012, the community of Tholeni lived in fear because there was a predator living among them. It’s not clear how (you were) able to escape capture for such a long time.”
As the judge handed down her sentence, Mabhayi remained silent and avoided eye contact with the families and relatives of his victims sitting in the public gallery.
“His modus operandi involved stalking his targets, who were mostly vulnerable. It mattered not how young the victim was. No one was spared,” Judge Conjwa said.
She reiterated the evidence that Mabhayi “went for homes where there were no menfolk”.
Murmurs occasionally erupted in court as the judge reviewed the postmortem results revealing the severity of the wounds Mabhayi inflicted on his victims.
“The common trend that runs through these wounds show (the use of) violent force. He (Mabhayi) would kill more than one victim in one house. I can’t begin to imagine what was going through the minds of his victims while he was killing others.”
Judge Conjwa occasionally glared at Mabhayi during her hour-long delivery of sentence.
“While (Mabhayi) has apologised, he hasn’t disclosed the details of his crimes. To this day I remain in the dark as to what drove him to commit the crimes,” she said, reiterating how he had also preyed on unsuspecting people he worked for.
“He was well known and liked by people of that community. He took an unfair advantage of his knowledge of the homes he worked for. The deceased were attacked in the sanctuary of their homes where they expect to be safe…
“If what the social worker said (is true), he doesn’t seem to realise the enormity of his actions. In fact, he agreed that had he not been caught, he would have continued with his crimes.”
In a prelude to her sentencing, Judge Conjwa said the retribution would “hopefully restore the faith of the community in the justice system”.
The sentence sparked a frenzy of celebrations, led by Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Pemmy Majodina.
“Twenty by 20! Phambili nge 20 life sentences phambili!” she shouted to loud cheers.
“Today justice has been served, and we hope that the people of Tholeni will live in peace. We have similar cases in Mthatha, King William’s Town and Mthatha. We hope this will serve as a deterrent to other (would-be) perpetrators.”
Among those celebrating the sentence was Noxolo Mxhunyelwa, one of the many residents of Tholeni, near Butterworth, whose loved ones were murdered.
Mabhayi killed her mother and 13-year-old sister after raping them, before turning on her 15-month-old son, hacking him to death. Her 12-year-old brother survived the attack but has been left brain damaged.
Noxolo, who has had to abandon her studies, said she was satisfied with the sentencing.
“It won’t help the pain go away but at least I know that the killer is in jail.”
The cop who caught the 'Monster of Tholeni'
By Lebogang Seale - Iol.co.za
September 4, 2013
Mthatha - He has cracked some of the most serious criminal cases in the Eastern Cape – including the arrest of a serial rapist in Mzamba, who raped and murdered women and removed their wombs for muti.
But the arrest of Bulelani Mabhayi, the “Monster of Tholeni”, proved to be the most daunting for Captain Aaron Hanise.
“This was a very difficult case. People had no clue who was terrorising the community,” he said.
Mabhayi operated in the Eastern Cape, preying on victims in Tholeni – a place that became known as “the village of death”.
The village lies along the N2 freeway, about 15km from Butterworth, a town situated between East London and Mthatha.
It’s a small village. Herds of cattle, sheep and goats graze on the vegetation growing in the almost barren landscape.
“There aren’t many jobs around and most people just keep livestock or do odd jobs in the village or town,” said Nomfundiso Mpontshane, an activist whose house was used as a victim support centre for traumatised relatives and other frightened villagers during Mabhayi’s reign of terror.
There are abandoned and dilapidated buildings interspersed with brightly painted houses. The deserted houses belonged to Mabhayi’s victims or their relatives – an eerie reminder of his trail of destruction.
It was in June 2010, after the murder of Sinazo Mbeki and her two grandchildren, that Hanise was tasked with tracking the perpetrator behind a string of murders now believed to be linked.
The three killings brought to eight the tally of murders that were believed to have been committed by the same perpetrator. Authorities were for the first time admitting that they were looking for a serial killer.
Hanise and his team of detectives initially put up a R250 000 reward for an arrest leading to a conviction, but nobody came forward with any helpful information.
“We called the psychologists’ office to help determine if we had a serial killer on our hands. They confirmed that,” said Hanise.
DNA samples were also collected from some of the village residents with previous rape convictions in the hope of finding a link. It came to naught.
The case stalled and so provincial police management initiated a strategy called Operation Good Hope, drawing on police from various units including the organised crime unit, the dog unit and forensic divisions.
The joint operation made its first move on May 17, 2010, when hundreds of males over the age of 16 were rounded up in an early-morning blitz in the area.
They were taken to a local church, where they had their DNA samples and fingerprints taken. Mabhayi was among them.
But his fingerprints could not be lifted as he did not have an ID document.
The police focus did not deter Mabhayi. He continued with his killing spree, murdering five more people over the next 13 months.
The breakthrough, when it was finally made, came as a result of Mabhayi’s indiscretion rather than good detective work.
On August 11 last year, Mabhayi murdered Nophumzile Florence Lubambo and accidentally left his shoe at the crime scene. It was a mistake that led to his arrest.
“We were looking for another person, who happened to be his (Mabhayi)’s brother, the late Siyabonga. Incidentally, we got him because of the shoe we found on the crime scene. It matched the one he was wearing,” said Hanise.
The saliva that had been drawn from Mabhayi during Operation Good Hope proved indispensable. His DNA test results linked him to the string of murders.
“It was a huge relief when he was arrested. I can gladly go on pension now,” laughed Hanise.
As Mabhayi began serving his life sentence in prison on Tuesday, residents of the village he terrorised for so long said they continued to live in fear.
Many believe Mabhayi was not working alone when he committed his crimes.
“When he testified in court, he (Mabhayi) always said ‘we’ when he answered questions. Who else was he referring to?” asked Mpontshane.
Serial killer ‘suffered from iqungu’
Sithandiwe Velaphi - TheNewAge.co.za
September 3, 2013
Two traditional healers in the province say serial killer, Bulelani Mabhayi, suffered from a spiritual sickness called iqungu in his reign of terror during which he killed 20 women and children in Tholeni village.
Without condoning the horrific crimes that occurred between 2007 and 2012, the traditionalists said Mabhayi continued on his killing spree because he was not cleansed after the first murder.
Iqungu happens to a person who has killed another person and had not spiritually undergone the traditional cleansing ceremony afterwards.
“When a person kills another person in January for example, he also kills in the same month the following year if he has not undergone a cleansing ceremony and that is because of iqungu,” Eastern Cape’s prominent traditional affairs researcher, Mpumelelo Makuliwe.
Mabhayi, 39, alias Dlayedwa, was found guilty of killing 20 women and children at Tholeni, Butterworth. He was also found guilty on six rape charges and 10 housebreaking counts.
In May 2007, Mabhayi killed No-Finish Mayekiso and in May last year, he killed Nomandla Mxunyelwa, Lukhanyo Mxunyelwa and Liyema Mxunyelwa. In January 2008, he murdered Ncediswa Mafika, Zintle Mafika, and Lazola Mafika (child) and in January 2009 he killed Nokhwezi Nogaya and her young daughter, Siphuxolo Nogaya.
“When he killed in May 2007, iqungu had been following him and that is why he also killed in May 2012. The same happened when he killed in January 2008, iqungu followed him to kill also in January 2009,” Makuliwe said.
According to Makuliwe, even if a person had killed another person “mercilessly or in defence”, iqungu will happen.
The sickness, which had been known for years in Xhosa custom, reverses only when the family has conducts a cleansing ceremony on the killer so that he does not repeat the deed.
Mabhayi told the court during his trial last week that he committed the murders because there was an evil spirit following him.
“I did this because of the evil spirit and I regret doing that,” he told the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court.
Serial killer’s guilty plea ‘shows remorse’
By Lebogang Seale - Iol.co.za
August 30, 2013
Johannesburg - For more than five years, the serial killer terrorised residents at an Eastern Cape village, breaking into their homes at night and raping and killing women and children.
Bulelani Mabhayi, 38, used a bush knife and an axe to kill.
His murder spree ended in August last year when police pounced on him while he “took a nap” at a house in Tholeni, near Butterworth, Eastern Cape.
By then, his victim tally had reached 36 - 20 murders, six rapes and 10 housebreakings.
On Wednesday, Mabhayi’s lawyer pleaded for mercy from the Mthatha High Court sitting in Butterworth.
This was after Mabhayi had pleaded guilty on all charges on Tuesday.
“He has pleaded guilty, and this shows remorse,” said Mabhayi’s legal counsel, advocate Simphiwe Soga, sparking murmurs from the public gallery packed with relatives of Mabhayi’s victims.
Soga, arguing in mitigation of sentence, said Mabhayi’s father had died when he was 12 and his mother a year later.
“He had no parents and no place to call home.
“The public interest is not always served by a severe sentence. The court should show a degree of mercy.”
State prosecutor advocate Ndoyisile Lamla, arguing in aggravation of sentence, said there were substantial and compelling circumstances for a heavy sentence.
“All the deceased were attacked at their homes at night and were defenceless persons. The offences were premeditated and executed with precision,” he said.
Referring to the callousness of Mabhayi’s crimes, Lamla said some of Mabhayi’s victims were people for whom he used to do odd jobs as a builder; he targeted homes where there were no men; his youngest victim was six years old and the oldest 79.
After raping them, he would hit them on the head with an axe.
The court should send out a clear message to deter would-be-rapists and murderers, Lamla said.
“He (Mabhayi) has no respect for human life… He is a person who doesn’t deserve to be living in that community.
“There is a public outcry about crimes of rape and murder, and the only deterrent is to impose a severe and heavy sentence.”
Lamla called for a fixed, “non-parolable” jail term of at least 45 years.
Testifying in aggravation of sentencing earlier, Nomfundiso Mpontshane told the court how terrified residents, especially women and children, were forced to take refuge at the local victim support centre as Mabhayi’s reign of terror continued.
“They couldn’t sleep out of terror,” Mpontshane said.
She testified how the women would go back home with their children in the morning to bathe them before they went to school.
Asked if she would forgive Mabhayi, Mpontshane said: “We will never forgive him. What he did was very terrible. We won’t accept his apology.”
Mpontshane said: “I speak for all residents, and if anyone is called (to testify), he or she will confirm that. We are still angry with him.”
Throughout the proceedings, Mabhayi showed no emotion.
Sentencing was reserved.
We will never forgive you, serial killer told
By Michelle Solomon - Dispatch.co.za
August 30, 2013
“WE WILL never forgive him.”
These were the words of the final witness in the Tholeni serial killer trial.
Tholeni community activist Nomfundiso Mpontshane said she spoke for the entire village when she condemned serial killer Bulelani Mabhayi for his rape and murder spree that saw 19 women and children killed in their home village.
Mabhayi murdered a 20th woman from another village.
State prosecutor advocate Ndoyisile Lamla called Mpontshane as part of his argument for aggravating circumstances ahead of Mabhayi’s sentencing.
Mabhayi lived in the Mpontshane household throughout his reign of terror in Tholeni village, from 2008 to 2012.
He lived just metres from a victim crisis centre set up in 2009 to protect women and children in the area from his violence.
Mpontshane said the community was terrified of having men as protectors, so the women decided to protect each other.
“We could not agree to have men look after us because we knew some of them were the perpetrators,” she said.
Social workers came to Tholeni to assist them, Mpontshane said, and that was when the crisis centre was set up.
“People realised we were being abused by male persons and the victim centre would be there to help us,” she added.
“We decided that as womenfolk we should try to run away from the likes of people like Mabhayi.”
She said it was after the Mxhunyelwa family was brutally murdered that the centre became a place of refuge, and women from around Tholeni slept there with their children and grandchildren.
Mabhayi murdered Nomandla, Liyema, 1, and Lukhanyo Mxhunyelwa, 13, in May 2012.
While talking about the murder of this family, Mpontshane broke down in tears.
Presiding Judge Noluthando Conjwa offered to adjourn court for a few minutes for her to compose herself but she said she could carry on testifying.
Mpontshane said the centre was established in her yard – and unbeknown to the women, the source of their fears lived only metres away. She said the women, some of them over 70, were so afraid they left everything in their own homes to sleep together in the centre.
While testifying, Mpontshane stared straight ahead at the dock where Mabhayi was sitting.
She said some of the women were so traumatised that no men were allowed anywhere near the crisis centre.
Lamla told Mpontshane about Mabhayi’s Tuesday apology.
“He told this court he’s very sorry for what he did and he realises what he did was wrong. He apologised to the people of Tholeni and of South Africa. What do you have to say to that?”
Mpontshane grew angry.
Raising her voice and staring straight ahead she said: “We will never forgive you.”
In his address to the judge, advocate Simphiwe Soga submitted to the court in mitigation that three matters should be taken into consideration – the fact that Mabhayi pleaded guilty, that there “are prospects of him being rehabilitated”, as well as that Mabhayi is a known dagga smoker, having smoked dagga since his teens.
Soga also submitted that the sentences of those crimes that were committed on the same day – such as when Mabhayi murdered all the occupants of a single household – should run concurrently.
In his submission on aggravating circumstances, Lamla agreed that, where Mabhayi committed offences “at the same time and place”, his sentences should run concurrently. Lamla recommended Mabhayi be sentenced to life behind bars for each count of rape and murder – 26 charges in total.
He further recommended Mabhayi be given a minimum “no parole” period of 45 years.
I chose weak ones, killer admits
By Michelle Solomon - Dispatch.co.za
August 29, 2013
THE Eastern Cape man who pleaded guilty this week to murdering 20 people said he was sorry.
On Tuesday Bulelani Mabhayi, 39, plead guilty to all 36 charges levelled against him, which include rape and murder.
If convicted, Mabhayi will be the worst serial killer South Africa has seen in over 15 years.
Mabhayi’s home village Tholeni, based in the Butterworth district, became known as South Africa’s “village of death” under his reign of terror.
“Even to the people of Tholeni and to the citizens of South Africa, I would like to say I apologise and I am very sorry for what I did,” he said.
Less than an hour after his apology, however, Mabhayi told the court that had he not been arrested in August 2012, he would still be raping and killing.
State prosecutor Advocate Ndoyisile Lamla grilled Mabhayi on how he chose his victims, asking whether he intentionally chose women-headed households with children.
The ever meek Mabhayi, who mumbled throughout his testimony, answered merely ndiyavuma (that is correct) to most of Lamla’s questions.
His first victim, Nofinish Eslina Mayekiso, attacked Mabhayi with an axe when he first broke into her house. He later returned with his own axe, raped her and hacked her to death in May 2007. She was his oldest victim at 79.
“Why did you rape an elderly woman?”
Mabhayi said as an elderly woman, Mayekiso would be weaker. He killed his victims because they knew him and would be able to identify him, he added.
Lamla asked whether Mabhayi believed his youngest victims, who were little more than a year old, could identify him to other villagers. “They could not do that because they could not know you,” Lamla said.
Lamla put it to Mabhayi that he murdered Ongama Mbeki, “who was one year and two months old”. Exclamations of anger were heard from several women in the packed courtroom.
Mabhayi told the court he killed the child because he was “driven by an evil spirit”.
Lamla asked: “Do you agree with me that there is absolutely no reason why you should kill these children?”
Mabhayi said Lamla was right.
Lamla asked Mabhayi whether he still had value to society, or should be locked away for the rest of his life. He replied he believed he still had value, “because I have learnt from this experience and that what I was doing was not right and unacceptable”.
Lamla was incredulous, telling the court Mabhayi continued his murdering spree up until his arrest in August 2012. “Do you agree that if the police had not arrested you, you would still be raping and killing people of the Tholeni locality?”
Mabhayi answered yes.
Lamla put it to Mabhayi that he could not possibly be sorry for what he had done.
“Do you agree that you are the kind of person who has no respect for human life?”
“Ndiyavuma,” he replied.
Mabhayi has been charged with the murder of 20 women and children and not 23 as originally reported.
How I murdered 20 villagers
By Michelle Solomon - Dispatch.co.za
August 28, 2013
GUILTY. This word was repeated 36 times by the Eastern Cape’s worst serial killer as he admitted to murdering 20 women and children.
The courtroom silence was occasionally broken by sobs as people heard him admit to killing their relatives and friends.
Bulelani Mabhayi, accused of 36 criminal charges, 20 of which are murder, pleaded guilty to all charges against him.
The other 16 charges include rape.
At least nine murder victims were children.
One count of rape was withdrawn by the prosecution yesterday morning as the Mthatha High Court sat in a special hearing in the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court this week.
The court was tense yesterday, but calmer than when Mabhayi first appeared on Monday when at least 30 police officers surrounded the court.
Each charge against Mabhayi was read out to him, and he was asked whether he was guilty or not guilty.
Mabhayi, a slight man dressed in a khaki jacket with a blue hood, meekly answered “ndinetyala” (I am guilty) to each charge.
Mabhayi looked straight at the court interpreter as he spoke.
While listening to the charge, Mabhayi would frown slightly while chewing his lips and staring into the middle distance.
Mabhayi’s defence read a statement from the killer, wherein he detailed how he committed his crimes.
In most cases, the statement read, he broke into people’s homes armed with an axe or panga.
All his victims were women and children, and he largely targeted homes where women were the head of the household. After breaking in, Mabhayi would attempt to rape the women and girls in the house before killing everyone by chopping them to death with the axe or panga.
Noxolo Mxunyelwa, dressed in her school uniform, burst into tears and had to be removed from the courtroom when Mabhayi answered “ndinetyala” to whether he had murdered her mother, Nomandla.
Mabhayi pleaded guilty to murdering both Noxolo’s one-year-old son and her mother, and to raping and murdering her cousin Lukhanyo, 13.
Later in the process another woman burst into tears, and was also led out of the court. Several others cried quietly as the trial progressed.
Mabhayi neither looked up nor acknowledged the women when they were led out weeping.
Nineteen of the murders took place in Mabhayi’s home village, which became known as the “village of death” as a result of his attacks.
In his statement, Mabhayi further said he knew all his victims, and they knew him. He said this was why he had murdered them.
Butterworth police spokesman Captain Jackson Manatha said Mabhayi’s guilty pleas were the result of excellent police work.
“I am still struggling to find the suitable word to describe how relieved we are as the South African Police Services that the accused pleaded guilty to all the charges levelled against him,” he said.
Mabhayi said he murdered a 20th woman after he met her while travelling.
Mabhayi said he told the woman he loved her and had consensual sex with her, but decided to murder her anyway.
He directed police to the site where her remains were buried, said prosecutor Advocate Ndoyisile Lamla.
The defence asked for an adjournment to look at the psychological and social circumstances reports.
Arguments in mitigation of sentencing will take place today.
After the hearing, Noxolo told the Dispatch that her heart was broken after losing her mother.
“She was everything to me and I was everything to her,” she said.
“It is still very difficult living without my mother and son, but I’ll be okay.”
Mabhayi sentencing arguments to be heard
August 28, 2013
The court is expected to hear evidence in mitigation of sentence of one of the country’s worst serial killers, Bulelani Mabhayi, who on Tuesday pleaded guilty to 20 charges of murder in the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court.
Dubbed The Monster of Tholeni, Mabhayi also pleaded guilty to six counts of rape and 10 of housebreaking.
Mabhayi, 38, terrorised the community of Tholeni near Butterworth between 2007 and 2012.
Most of his victims were women.
The court heard that he allegedly used an axe and bush knife to torment and kill his victims. He also broke into their houses where he would rape and murder the women.
Prosecutor Ndoyisile Lamla took about 15 minutes reading Mabhayi’s charges before a packed court which included families of the alleged serial killer’s victims.
He stood emotionless and looked downwards as the charges were read out to him.
Before a Xhosa interpreter took the stand to translate the charges judge Noluthando Conjwa indicated to Mabhayi that he faced a minimum of life in jail on each count “in the event of your conviction”.
“I plead guilty to all charges,” Mabhayi said, showing no emotion.
Some community members wept as Lamla read out Mabhayi’s charges in his home language.
Noxolo Mxunyelwa, whose three family members, including her mother, sister and one-year-old son, were allegedly hacked to death by Mabhayi, collapsed when Lamla read out a charge detailing how her family was killed.
Social workers rushed to her aid for comfort and further counselling. She was whisked out of court.
Mxunyelwa, who cried uncontrollably, recently said she wanted to know why Mabhayi had allegedly killed his family members.
After a five-year murder and rape spree, Mabhayi was finally arrested in August last year and has been in custody ever since.
His reign of terror resulted in the area now being named The Village of Death.
Mabhayi was nicknamed Dlayedwa (he who eats alone).
Villagers said they gave him the nickname because he always wanted to be alone.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said they were glad that Mabhayi had pleaded guilty on all the charges. “This is an indication that we had a strong case against him. This will also save us time and state resources,” Tyali said.
Eastern Cape MEC for social development Pemmy Majodina, said Mabhayi must rot in jail.
‘Death Village’ serial killer trial begins
By Michelle Solomon - Dispatch.co.za
August 27, 2013
NEGOTIATIONS behind the scenes dominated day one of the trial of Eastern Cape serial killer suspect Bulelani Mabhayi yesterday.
Mabhayi, 39, faces 37 charges, of which 23 are counts of murder. He appeared in the Mthatha High Court, which sat in Butterworth, yesterday.
Mabhayi is accused of having terrorised Tholeni village in Butterworth, which became known as the “death village” in the wake of attacks between 2007 and 2012.
Mabhayi spent most of the day in confidential talks with his attorney.
There were rumours in court yesterday that a plea bargain was being discussed, but this was not confirmed by National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Luxolo Tyali.
“Mabhayi is consulting with his Legal Aid attorney, and what happens in those consultations is confidential,” Tyali said.
There were at least 30 police officers at the court, many in full riot gear.
Butterworth police spokesman Captain Jackson Manatha said the extra police were brought in to maintain order.
“We had a group of Public Order Policing unit members from Queenstown and Crime Prevention Unit of Butterworth police members.
“They are here to maintain law and order as high-ranking government officials are attending the case,” Manatha said.
“They are also here to control the members of community who come in big numbers since this a high-profile case.”
Social development MEC Pemmy Majodina was among those present. She appealed to the public to remain calm.
The case was delayed by several hours, causing frustration among those waiting.
During the delay, Majodina appealed to them to let justice take its course. She also asked the public to remain calm when Mabhayi eventually appeared in court.
When Mabhayi walked past a group of gathered community members, some lunged towards policemen clustered around the suspect as he walked to the consultation room to meet his attorney.
Some were crying while others expressed their anger at Mabhayi.
Mabhayi remained in the consultation room for more than an hour before he was led back to court, this time with police officers lining a walkway for him.
Mabhayi appeared before presiding Judge Noluthando Conjwa, who approved a request that the case be postponed to today for Mabhayi to consult further with his attorney.
Conjwa further ordered that Mabhayi consult with his attorney in court – as opposed to in prison, as is standard – to speed up the matter.
If found guilty of the 23 murder charges brought against him, Mabhayi will be among South Africa’s top three serial killers in the country’s history, and the worst in more than a decade.
Majodina also circulated a petition in court against Mabhayi’s release. The petition demanded that Mabhayi remain in police custody and that the trial be settled quickly.
“He [Mabhayi] must be thrown in dark cells and rot in jail (the jail keys must be thrown far away),” the petition read.
Majodina said she saw to it that the case was heard as a special sitting of the Mthatha High Court in the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court.
“Services must be brought to the people and these people affected by Mabhayi are mostly unemployed and poor.
“They can’t afford to travel to Mthatha to witness the case,” Majodina said.
Villagers to relive serial killer terror
By Michelle Solomon - Dispatch.co.za
August 26, 2013
AN EASTERN Cape community devastated by a spate of killings will have to relive the trauma from today as a man suspected of being one of the worst serial killers in South African history goes on trial.
Bulelani Mabhayi, 39, will appear in the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court for allegedly terrorising the people of Tholeni, a village that became known as the “village of death”.
Mabhayi faces 37 criminal charges – 23 of them murder.
Police spokesman Captain Jackson Manatha said Mabhayi is charged with a number of unsolved rape and murder cases that had the people of Tholeni living in fear from 2008.
Despite Mabhayi’s arrest and imminent trial, people of Tholeni village continue to live in fear.
Theron Mxunyelwa told the Daily Dispatch three members of his family had been hacked to death, allegedly by Mabhayi. A fourth, a teenage boy, barely survived and is now brain damaged.
Mxunyelwa’s niece Noxolo said both her mother and one-year-old son were hacked to death.
“I was away and my mother was looking after my son,” she said, before she abruptly stopped speaking.
Mxunyelwa said Noxolo was afraid and traumatised by the murders.
Pointing at the Dispatch reporter’s feet, Mxunyelwa said: “This is where we found them in a pool of blood.”
He stood only metres from a Department of Justice imbizo tent, erected as part of the launch of South Africa’s first new Sexual Offences Court at the Butterworth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
If found guilty of the 23 murder charges brought against him, Mabhayi will be among South Africa’s top three serial killers in the country’s known history, and the worst in more than a decade.
The “South African Strangler” Moses Sithole raped and murdered at least 38 women before he was arrested in 1995. Sithole was convicted of the murders and another 40 rapes, and sentenced to 2410 years imprisonment in 1997.
Mabhayi is related to convicted murderer Mqwalaseli Mabhayi, who was last year sentenced to two life terms and an additional 10 years for the murder of a 70-year-old Tholeni woman and her 12-year-old granddaughter.
Mxunyelwa said he feared for the future of Tholeni.
“Many families here still live with this pain, and what if he [Mabhayi] wasn’t the only killer?”
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Friday expressed the government’s condolences and solidarity with the Butterworth community for the brutal killing of the villagers.
In an exclusive interview with the Dispatch, Radebe said the allegations against Mabhayi, if true, were “heinous”.
“Justice must take its course, and if proven guilty, Mabhayi must face the harshest sanction possible under South African law.”
The minister spoke to the Dispatch shortly after launching South Africa’s first new Sexual Offences Court in Butterworth.
Radebe, his deputy minister Andries Nel, and Eastern Cape MEC for social development Pemmy Majodina, among others, spoke at the imbizo in Tholeni village.
“We express our deepest heartfelt condolences with the Tholeni community,” Radebe said, adding Tholeni was intentionally chosen as the site for the imbizo.
Mabhayi was nabbed by police in August last year, shortly after he allegedly murdered an elderly Tholeni woman the week before.
His arrest came a few hours after police discovered the body of Nophumzile Lubambo who had been hacked to death in her sleep.
Her death brought to 19 the number of people killed in the village since 2008.
Mabhayi will appear in court today in a special sitting of the Mthatha High Court in Butterworth, arranged in order to provide the families of the Tholeni victims the opportunity to sit in on the trial proceedings.
Suspected killer to be assessed
By Lulamile Feni - Dispatch,co.za
January 30, 2013
SUSPECTED Tholeni serial killer Bulelani Mabhayi has been referred by the Mthatha High Court to the Fort England Psychiatric Hospital in Grahamstown for mental assessment.
The 39-year-old resident of Tholeni village near Butterworth is facing 23 counts of murder, eight counts of housebreaking and five of rape.
The counts of murder all relate to the killing of women and children in Tholeni in one of the worst cases of serial murders in the province.
Mabhayi has been in custody since his arrest on August 12 2012.
Mabhayi was escorted to court yesterday by armed police officers. He wore white takkies and a grey lumberjacket.
The case was referred to the Mthatha High Court after it had been heard by the Butterworth District Court.
The state yesterday successfully applied for an order to move Mabhayi to Fort England for psychiatric assessment for 30 days.
Mabhayi will be moved today and the matter has been postponed to March for the psychiatric report.
Mabhayi’s Legal Aid SA attorney, Nick du Toit, said he has discussed with his client that he had to undergo psychiatric assessment.
“He does not have a problem on that my Lord,” he said.
The Director of Public Prosecutions earlier requested Mabhayi be sent to a psychiatric hospital after results of medical tests conducted on his mental fitness by a district surgeon were inconclusive.
Social development MEC Pemmy Majodina said she hoped the trial would be heard in Butterworth and not in Mthatha to afford the families an opportunity to attend proceedings.
“I have met with Justice Department Minister Jeff Radebe and informed him of the seriousness of the case and he agreed it is a priority case and has to be heard in Butterworth.”
She said most of the alleged crimes were committed in or near Butterworth and most of the people interested in the case could not afford daily transport to Mthatha.
South African 'village of death' serial killer suspect arrested
A man suspected in a string of grisly rapes and murders that gave a South African community the moniker "village of death" has been arrested, a local newspaper said Wednesday
August 15, 2012
Johannesburg: A man suspected in a string of grisly rapes and murders that gave a South African community the moniker "village of death" has been arrested, a local newspaper said Wednesday.
Bulelani Mabhayi, 39, was arrested on Sunday after an elderly woman was founded hacked to death the night before in the Eastern Cape village of Tholeni, the Daily Dispatch reported.
He is being charged with a string of unresolved rapes and murders in the village where 19 women have been slain since 2009, police spokesman Jackson Manatha told the paper.
Police took Mabhayi to the village, where he pointed out the homes of his suspected victims, Manatha said.
"The whole village tailed the police as the man pointed out one house after the other," he told the paper.
Mabhayi is related to convicted murderer Mqwalaseli Mabhayi, who this year was sentenced to two life terms over the murders of a 70-year-old and her 12-year-old granddaughter in Tholeni.
Residents said they were relieved but still scared.
"We don't know if he was the only one committing these crimes or not. We will remain cautious until we know he was the only suspect," resident Nowinile Mayekiso told the paper.
South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of rape and murder outside of a war zone. Although the number of murders has steadily declined since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, an average of 43 people are killed every day.