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Considered one of South Africa's worst serial killers, Moses Sithole was found guilty of 38 murders and 40 rapes in 1997.
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With the manhunt now in the public domain, Sithole tried to seek assistance from family members, but undercover police intercepted him on October 18, 1995. He was unwilling to go quietly, and a police officer shot him in the leg and stomach. Sithole was hospitalized, underwent surgery and was then transferred to the secure Military Hospital in Pretoria,
where he admitted to numerous killings in interviews with detectives.
Sithole denied having had an accomplice and believed that copycat murders had been executed using his modus operandi. A police claim that he had waived his right to an attorney while making his confession was later denied in court.
Five days later, on October 23, 1995, Moses Sithole was charged with 29 murders in the magistrates’ court in Brakpan.
On November 3, 1995, Sithole was transported to Boksburg Prison, where he had served his rape sentence two years previously, to await his trial. During this time, press reports stated that he was HIV positive.
By the time Sithole’s trial began on October 21, 1996, mounting evidence saw the total charges against him increase to 38 counts of murder, 40 counts of rape and six counts of robbery. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Building a chronological picture of his crimes, the prosecution introduced harrowing testimony from his earliest rape victims detailing their ordeals at the hands of Sithole before his first conviction for rape.
A detailed examination followed of his connection with each of the murdered victims, with testimony about the alleged job offers and the specific techniques used to lure his victims to their deaths. Sithole appeared cool and collected throughout.
On December 3, 1996, the prosecution introduced a video that had been shot during Sithole’s initial incarceration, in which Sithole candidly admitted to 29 murders. He describes his technique in some detail, although he claims that he began killing only in July 1995, selecting his victims for their resemblance to rape victim Buyiswa Doris Swakamisa, whom he regarded as responsible for his first jail sentence. The legality of the admissibility of this tape, recorded illegally in a jail cell, caused the trial to be delayed until January 29, 1997, and the technical issues relating to it, as well as Sithole’s original confession, caused the trial to drag on until July 29, 1997, when the judge finally ruled that the evidence was admissible.
The prosecution rested its case on August 15, 1997. The defense case depended largely on Sithole’s denial of any involvement in the killings when he took the witness box, but his testimony was often rambling and incoherent.
On December 4, 1997, more than a year after the case had commenced, Moses Sithole was found guilty on all charges. It took three hours to read the verdict, with the consequence that sentencing had to be postponed until the next day.
The next morning, the judge made a statement that in view of the abhorrent nature of the crimes, he would have had no hesitation in pronouncing a death sentence on Sithole.
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