Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Moses Sithole

Leading Up to the Trial

The trial of Moses Sithole was a long, expensive, but interesting affair. Not only did it necessarily deal with shockingly gruesome details and include exhaustive testimony on DNA, but there were also some intriguing, if not dramatic, twists.

Of course, it took almost a year to get there.

Sithole himself first appeared in court on Nov. 13, 1995, shuffling in on crutches. Many people, including relatives of the victims, attended, and they were not friendly. Foreseeing an emotional crowd, the building housing the Brakpan Magistrates Court was sealed off with razor wire and guarded by heavily armed police officers. Some people were very disappointed when they arrived too late to see the suspect, since his case had already been heard at 7:30 a.m. and was merely postponed for further investigation. They vowed to camp out at the building on the following occasion.

On Dec. 5, Sithole reappeared in the magistrates court. His attorney, Tony Richard, presented a letter from psychiatrist Dr. Leon Fine to the judge, proposing that Sithole be sent for clinical observation. Apparently, Sithole had suffered some head injuries during previous assaults and boxing matches, and these may have prevented him from realising the wrongfulness of his actions. It is interesting, however, that, despite not realizing that killing these women was wrong, he nevertheless went to tremendous lengths to cunningly mislead them, to lure them far away from other people, to leave almost no evidence behind, and to remove the victims belongings so as to prolong their identification. The judge ordered that Sithole be transferred to the Krugersdorp Prison, where he could be observed at nearby Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital.

On Jan. 5, 1996, the process repeated itself, bar the letter and bar the presence of Sithole. On Feb. 6, Sithole did attend, and a third period of 30 days was added. On March 6, the psychiatric reports were finally complete, and the court was informed that Sithole did not exhibit any evidence of injury or disorder which would preclude his comprehension of right and wrong. Hence, he was deemed fit to stand trial. Sithole listened with what would become his characteristic grin. A large contingent of women had gathered outside the building and demanded that Sithole be delivered to them. Their request was denied and Sithole was instead returned to Boksburg Prison.

South African High Court, Pretoria
South African High Court, Pretoria

On May 20, Sithole appeared in the Pretoria Supreme Court, where a date was set for the trial to begin five months later.

In mid-Sept., Sithole received a new, private attorney, Eben Jordaan, whose fees (although 20 percent below the usual rates) would be carried by the State.

On Sept. 30, the newspapers went wild. They reported that Moses Sithole would be charged with 38 counts of murder, 40 counts of rape and 6 counts of robbery. Four of the murder charges related to women previously attributed by the police to alleged Cleveland serial killer, David Selepe. This revelation did not go down well with reporters who had never really accepted the Selepe incident. The fact that one of these women, Amanda Thethe, had been found at the scene Selepe had been pointing out when he was shot, naturally exacerbated the situation even further.

Questioned on whether any of these four were included in the six victims police claimed were positively linked to Selepe at the turn of 1994, they chose not to comment, as the Sithole case is considered to be sub judice, quoted in the Cape Times. The names of the six connected to Selepe has never been made public.

Amanda Kebofile Thethe, age 26, was found on Aug. 6, 1994, near Cleveland. The other three victims were: 18-year-old Maria Monene Monama, found on July 16 in Cleveland; 32-year-old Joyce Thakane Mashabela, found on Aug. 19 in Pretoria West; and 24-year-old Refilwe Amanda Mokale, found on Sept. 7 in Cleveland.

Another body, that of Rose Rebothile Mogotsi, had also been added to the charges. Rose was found on Sept. 18, 1994, in Boksburg. She had disappeared three days earlier, a 22-year-old looking for work.

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