Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Selepe

Selepe Mystery Deepens

The mystery surrounding Selepe deepened on June 21, when Col. Adrian Eager testified that there was uncertainty whether "David Selepe" was the suspect's real name. Apparently, he had been found guilty of fraud on May 2, 1985, when he was caught with an identity document in the name of "David Selepe." At the time, authorities could not establish who the booklet belonged to, nor what the perpetrator's real name was. Consequently, he was sentenced as "David Selepe." The records of the Department of Internal Affairs revealed that Selepe had first obtained a legal identity document in May 1992. Between that time and June 21, 1994, a total of five such booklets had been issued to him.

On June 22, 1995, Magistrate HP Strydom ruled that no one would be held accountable for David Selepe's death. He found that Sgt. Mngomozulu had acted in self-defense.

Robert Ressler with the ABC task force
Robert Ressler with the ABC task force

After more bodies were discovered, the South African police contacted Robert Ressler, a retired FBI agent. He arrived on September 23. Although he was working with Micki Pistorius on the profile of the Atteridgeville serial killer, the National Commissioner asked him to look into the David Selepe case as well. The two profilers came to a number of conclusions: (1) the evidence indicated that Selepe had been involved in the Cleveland murders in some way; (2) it was likely that the Atteridgeville killer was working with an accomplice; and (3) it was possible that Selepe and the Atteridgeville killer may have known each other and may even have worked together.

When Moses Sithole was apprehended in connection with the Atteridgeville murders during October 1995, an initial police probe failed to uncover any connection between Sithole and Selepe. At the time of this writing, this situation remains unchanged.

When Sithole was eventually brought before the court, the charges included four of the Cleveland murders originally attributed to Selepe. The four were Maria Monama, Amanda Thethe, Joyce Mashabela and Refilwe Mokale. Again the press went wild. The fact that Selepe had been shot while pointing out the scene where Amanda Thethe's body had been found, a woman whose murder was now attributed to Moses Sithole, did not help. The tragedy of Selepe's death would continue to haunt the police.

Was David Selepe a serial killer, or merely bad with money? If he was involved in the Cleveland murders, to what extent was he involved? Did he work alone? What did he mean when he named "Tito" and "Mandla" as his accomplices? Did he and Moses Sithole know each other? If so, what exactly was the extent of their relationship?

There are only questions and no answers. Unlike a novel or a movie about a fictional killer, in real life we'll probably never know for certain.


Note: Dollar equivalencies are calculated at $1 = R6.10. This doesn't yield a monetary value that is directly comparable, however.


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