Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Moses Sithole


The addition of Amanda Thethes murder to the charges against Sithole was wrapped in controversy ever since it became known. Not only had David Selepe been pointing out this scene when he was killed, but Amandas killer had used her bank card to withdraw money from an automatic teller machine on three occasions in the days after she was killed. He had been photographed by a security camera, and police had stated previously that the man on this photo was David Selepe. Now Sithole was also charged with this act of robbery.

On Nov. 18, Siphiwe Ngwenya, who had worked at Kids Haven with Tryphina Mogotsi, identified the man on the security camera photo as Moses Sithole, the man who had visited Kids Haven and had had an appointment with Tryphina on the day she disappeared. The nail of death, however, was when Sitholes sister, Kwazi, told the court that the man on the photo was her brother. She also testified that women frequently phoned her home about job offers.

But there were more disturbing facts that would come to light. Sithole had known Amanda Thethe, and had visited her fathers home some months before she disappeared. She introduced him as Selbie, her boyfriend. She was found on Aug. 6, 1994, raped, her panties and pantyhose stuffed into her mouth, her blouse tied around her throat. Amandas aunt saw Selbie againat her nieces funeral. Serial killers like to visit their graveyards, dump sites or even attend their victims funerals. In doing so, they can relive the fantasy, the memory, the power of their domination over another human being.

Wilhelmina Ramphisa met David Ngobeni in March of 1995. He offered her a job and she filled in an application form. She was probably very disappointed and quite angry when he didnt keep their appointment to meet again. Of course, months later, when she saw David Ngobeni again, this time on the television news, and learned that he was actually Moses Sithole, believed to have killed more than 30 women, she must have gone ice cold, and then cried from happiness that he never showed.

Many witnesses testified. Fathers described the agony of having to identify their battered and broken daughters. Many tears were shed in that courtroom. Sithole, mostly, just sat and smiled.

Dan Mokwena testified that he had been sitting with Elizabeth Mathetsa outside their place of employment early in 1995. A man walked up to them and Elizabeth introduced him to Dan as Sello, her boyfriend. Dan again saw Sello a week before Elizabeth disappeared on May 25, 1995. Dan identified Moses Sithole as the man he knew as Sello.

Piet Tsotsetsi, a truck driver, testified that he received numerous calls on the cellular phone in his truck from women about job offers he had supposedly made. He knew nothing about it. During this time, however, Sithole had been employed at the same company to wash the trucks. Elsie Masangos sister testified that a man calling himself Piet Tsotsetsi had offered Elsie a job shortly before she disappeared. Tsotsetsi stated that the phone calls stopped after Sitholes arrest.

On Nov. 12, the trial had to be suspended when Sithole began to bleed. He had fallen during the weekend and reopened a previous wound to his leg. He was taken to hospital, leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

Mary Mogotlhoa testified that she had had a relationship with Sithole, whom she knew as Charles, shortly before his arrest. Although it had lasted only about two weeks, he had given her a watch during this time, which Tryphina Mogotsis mother testified looked just like her daughters. Mary described how Sithole laid a charge of rape against her at a police station after their relationship ended, and also accused her of stealing $82 from him.

Monica Gabisiles grandmother testified that a man identifying himself as Moses Sithole had phoned her house prior to Monicas disappearance in September 1995. They had met a month earlier and he phoned to say that he had found work for Monica in Germiston. She left her grandmothers house the next day and was never seen alive again. Three days later, a man phoned again. Although he said his name was Jabulane, Monicas grandmother recognized his voice as that of Sithole. He phoned again before Monicas funeral, this time identifying himself as Mandla. Again she recognized his voice. Sithole was in custody and claimed that he would be found innocent. He also said Monica got what she deserved and that the grandmother could walk over her body.

Although this speaks to Sitholes pleasure in bestowing pain on others is the fact that on this occasion, he chose the name Mandla instead of the usual Martin or any of the other aliases. During his interrogation, David Selepe claimed that he had had two accomplices, namely Tito and Mandla. Sithole used many names, but this is quite a coincidence. Although Selepes supposed accomplices had been mentioned in the newspapers, their names had not been made public. Detectives had spoken to a Mandla who had been detained both at the time of questioning and during the Cleveland murders, but perhaps this was not the right Mandla.

Peter Magubane
Peter Magubane

Peter Magubane, a well-known photographer, testified that he had been contacted by someone from The Star about two streetchildren. Outside the building he met Sithole, who identified himself as Patrick (his brothers name), a girl of 11 and a boy of 14. They took the girl to the Johannesburg Child Welfare and convinced the boy to go back to his parents. At a later date, the photographer was again contacted by a woman, and this time met Patrick and two girls as Park Station in Johannesburg. Apparently the three of them had been sleeping there on benches. They took the girls to Kids Haven, where Sithole of course met Tryphina Mogotsi.

Dr. Leendert Jansen, a voice identification specialist, testified that the voice on the police recordings of conversations between Joseph Magwena and the reporter Tamsen de Beerto which she had testified earlierand that on the recordings he had made of Sithole, belonged to the same man. I have no doubt that the unknown voice is in reality the voice of Moses Sithole, he said according to the Beeld of Nov. 26, 1996.

When Sitholes common-law wife, Martha, entered the court, he was very excited about seeing his 1-year-old daughter. She testified with the child sleeping in her arms. After the proceedings he waved, but Martha didnt want him to see their daughter. This was the only time during the protracted trial that he cried. Some people laughed at him.

After Insp. Mulovhedzi described the events surrounding Sitholes apprehension, Eben Jordaan painted a different picture during cross-examination. According to Sitholes version, he merely bumped into the police officer, and when he turned to say he was sorry, the officer drew his gun and fired multiple shots. Moreover, Sithole never had an axe.

On Nov. 30, via the newspapers, the police requested the publics help in identifying eight of Sitholes victims.

And then all the drama started.

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