Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Moses Sithole

Conversations Around a Hospital Bed

Meanwhile, the detectives had been questioning Sithole in his hospital bed. Both captains Vinol Viljoen and Frans van Niekerk visited Sithole in 1 Military Hospital, but he was reluctant to answer their questions. Until a female detective entered the room. Then he began describing some of his crimes and masturbated while he did so.

Some of these conversations were recorded. At one point, according to The Star, Sithole said: I can point out the place in Atteridgeville, as well as in Hercules. Thats where I started. Nearer to Johannesburg I did not kill people, because thats where I stayed. I did not even count. The locations were chosen before the victims. He killed only during daytime, and supposedly raped only the pretty ones.

He also said, according to the same article in The Star, that in Atteridgeville I killed manyabout 10. I caught them with my hands around the neck and strangled them. I thought of something to tie them up ... I used stockings. I placed it around their necks. He did not like blood, however. I heard f--k-all if they spoke to me and thought about other things, he was quoted as saying in the Beeld. He forced the women to look down while he raped and killed them. While he watched them die, he would masturbate.

Sithole denied working with an accomplice and claimed that there had also been copycats.

During the trial, these confessions came under dispute. Sithole, through his lawyer, accused the police of forcing him to admit his guilt. He claimed that detectives had provided him with the information and a list of victims names, and then told him to give these details back on the recording.

Of course, persons accused of crimes frequently claim that the police had somehow forced their confessions. However, the case for the detectives integrity was not helped by some other events during the days following Sitholes arrest. According to the detectives, he did not want legal representation present during the questioning. When Tony Richard, a legal aid attorney, arrived at the hospital, he was informed of this, but he did not believe the police and spoke to Sithole himself. Sithole said that his wife was organising a lawyer. Apparently the detectives continued to speak with Sithole alone. After he admitted to the murders, a magistrate was brought in to take down Sitholes confession. However, the interpreter told Sithole that he really should have some representation. Magistrate Greyvenstein observed that Sithole appeared to be in pain and when she asked him about a lawyer, he said that he had been unable to attain one and blamed the police for not allowing him to see anyone. She consequently refused to take his confession. Another magistrate was brought to the hospital later, at which time Sithole did confess. At the trial he claimed that the detectives were furious after Magistrate Greyvenstein had left, according to the Beeld, saying that he was making fools of them and he would see shit if he didnt confess to the second magistrate.

On Nov. 3, Sithole was released from 1 Military Hospital and transported to Boksburg Prison, where he had served his earlier sentence for rape, and also near one of his mass graves. He was kept in a solitary cell (where he would reside until his trial finally began just shy of a year later).

In the next couple of days, Sithole was taken to point out the scenes where he had left the bodies. On one morning he complained of pain due to his injuries. Capt. Viljoen went to a café and bought a packet of Smarties (chocolate coated in candy, in the form of a pill). He put some of these into Sitholes mouth and told him to swallow and not chew. The detective wanted Sithole undrugged while he indicated the crime scenes.

Sithole took the detectives to numerous locations where bodies had been found. Capt. Themba Ndlovu accompanied them and translated everything the detectives said into Zulu so that there would be no misunderstandings. On Nov. 6, he took them to the Gosforth Park mine dumps west of Germiston, where they discovered the last victim, yet another woman who would be laid to rest in a nameless paupers grave.

University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town

After these excursions, Sithole was taken to Dr. Lorna Martin, a district surgeon at the time, to determine whether he had been harmed and physically coerced by the police. Since then, Dr. Martin has not only completed her training as a forensic pathologist, but has become the head of the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at the University of Cape Town in 2004. She described Sithole as very charming, very well-spoken ... whatever I asked him, he answered. He was pleasant, he was polite ... Scary (personal communication, July 12, 2004).

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