In 2014‚ 32-year-old Thapelo Motseki was let off the hook for murder and rape. He went on to take at least three other lives.
Relatives of the deceased were elated after Motseki finally got his day in court. Three years after he first struck‚ he was found guilty of murdering and raping three teenagers and an older woman in June last year. In September‚ he was sentenced to four life terms and an additional 50 years by the South Gauteng High Court.
"I feel happy now. I'm free‚" said Mary Mzini‚ the grandmother of murdered teenager Thembelihle Dlamini.
Motseki's first known victim was 36-year-old Cinthia Setuke‚ a fellow mineworker in Rustenburg. Setuke was murdered on October 9‚ 2013‚ while on the night shift. Motseki was arrested in connection with her murder a few days later. But in April 2014 Motseki was allowed to go free by the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court‚ apparently because of a lack of evidence.
However‚ the law caught up with Motseki later that year when police were investigating another rape and murder in Soweto and linked Motseki's DNA to that collected in the Setuke case.
Months after Motseki was let off the hook for Setuke's murder‚ he was arrested for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Dlamini and 15-year-old Khubeka from Doornkop‚ Soweto‚ and 17-year-old Emerencia Kgakatsi from Rustenburg.
The South Gauteng High Court’s Judge Mmonoa Teffo delivered a macabre summary of Motseki's modus operandi: The attacks all occurred at night in areas well-known to the victims‚ the girls were all similar in appearance and they were walking alone when Motseki approached them.
In all cases there was strangulation‚ suffocation or anoxia (a lack of oxygen supply). They were partially clothed when found.