Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Selepe

A 40-Mile Connection?

South Africa map with Pretoria locator
South Africa map with Pretoria locator

Until then, the bodies were all found in a relatively confined area. But detectives were wondering about two women discovered in Pretoria West. The first body was found on August 19 in a patch of open field by a cattle watcher. The same man found the second body on October 7, about 330 yards from the first. These women were also black and neatly dressed. They had been strangled with their stockings and left partially nude, with no possessions which could help with their identification. Some of the Cleveland victims came from Pretoria or the surrounding area, or were traveling by taxi or train in the area when they disappeared.

Between Cleveland and Pretoria lie 49 miles of highway. This strengthened the belief that the killer owned a vehicle.

On October 25 and 26, authorities identified two more victims. Dorah Moleka Mokoena, aged 25, was a cashier at the Danville toll booth near Pretoria. She left home on the morning of September 9 to take a taxi to work, but she never arrived. On September 19, her body was found in Heriotdale. Dikeledi Daphney Papo was 28 and unemployed. Authorities were uncertain about what she had been doing before she disappeared or when she had gone missing. Her body was found on September 21 in Heriotdale.

Detectives learned that a man had phoned Dorah Mokoena's employer on September 12, three days after her disappearance. This man claimed that Dorah had been in an accident and would not be returning to work. He asked Dorah's employer to pay her salary into her account. Supposedly she was in a critical condition and needed the money. When the employer asked the man who he was, he remained silent for some time and then gave his name as "Martin."

Ironically, on Halloween, police revealed that one of the Pretoria West victims would be exhumed to search for evidence linking her to the Cleveland victims.

On November 2, Refilwe Amanda Mokale was identified. She had gone missing on September 5, her body found two days later next to the M2 freeway in Heriotdale. Refilwe was 24 years old, and her identification led to a possible breakthrough.

Intec College
Intec College

Refilwe was studying fashion design at IntecCollege in Pretoria. On September 4, the day before her disappearance, eyewitnesses saw her on Church Plain in Pretoria, talking to a man who offered her a job selling cellular phones. Apparently, she made an appointment to meet him the next day. She was never seen alive again. Witnesses described a black man, judged to be between 25 and 30 years of age, who could speak Zulu. Other women, who had also received job offers from the suspect, came forward as well. An identikit was drawn up and released to the media on November 10.

Meanwhile, the two victims discovered in Pretoria West had been identified. 30-year-old Peggy Bodile had an appointment with an unknown man on October 4 at the Paul Kruger statue on Church Plain in Pretoria. Her body was found three days later.

Joyce Thakane Mashabela, aged 32, left home to visit her sister by taxi on August 9. Five days later, on August 14, a man identifying himself as "Moses Sima" phoned Joyce's employer, claiming he had found Joyce's identity document while he was walking through a patch of veld en route to work. He left both an address and a phone number, and family members retrieved the booklet the following day. The man repeated his story. If he only found the booklet, how did he know where Joyce worked and what the number was? Joyce's body was found on August 19.

The body police believed to be the first in the series, found on July 16, was identified on November 10. She was Maria Monene Monama. Maria was only 18 years old and still at school.  She left home on the morning of July 14 to go to Pretoria and, although her body was found two days later, her parents wouldn't know what had happened to their daughter for four months.

Finally, the body of Margaret Ntombeni Ledwaba, 24, which was found on September 7, was identified.


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