How detectives tracked a killer

2012-06-02 16:10

What does it take to track and apprehend a serial killer? In the case of Thabang Moorosi, the man who terrorised the women of Bloemfontein during a two-year killing spree, it took a simple mistake.

Moorosi took two of his victims’ cellphones as mementos, which made it easy for police to track him down.

Late last month, Acting Judge Neil Snellenburg of the Bloemfontein High Court handed Moorosi six life sentences and an additional 15 years.

The killing spree began inMay 2010 when the body of an unknown woman was discovered in a quarry between Mangaung township’s Phase Five and Phase Six by a shepherd who immediately called the police. The woman, who was strangled, was never identified and had a pauper’s burial.

Two days before Christmas day that year, another body was found in the quarry, a few metres away from the first victim. The body was that of a 19-year-old Lesotho citizen, Mantoa Mohapi.

Her body was found by a woman cutting grass in the area.

Warrant Officer Kgotso Thekiso, an investigating officer from the Bloemspruit detective unit, was handed the two cases.

In March last year, police sniffer dogs found the body of 15-year-old Palesa Thakho in the same area. The teenager had been reported missing a month earlier.

A massive search operation was launched after pupils at Thakho’s school said they saw her being dragged away by an unknown man.

Provincial police spokesperson Warrant Officer Zweli Mohobeleli said the teenager had also been raped and strangled. He said it became clear to the local police that a serial killer was at work.

“There was a clear modus operandi: the women were all found naked, raped and strangled, their bodies dumped in the same place,” he said.

And during Moorosi’s trial, it emerged that police had found him by tracking the cellphones of two of his victims.

He was arrested in May last year and further confessed to the rape and murder of a fourth victim, 27-year-old Xobiswa Lalope, whose naked body was discovered in Uitsig in Bloemfontein in April last year.

Lalope, a cleaner at a clinic, was on her way home from work when she was murdered.

Dipolelo Maziya (31), a counsellor at the clinic, said Lalope’s death came as a shock: “She was always so cool, calm and collected. She was always laughing.”

Lalope’s husband died about a year before she was killed and her murder left their four-year-old son an orphan.

The quarry where 31-year-old Moorosi dumped three of his victims is within walking distance of the house he shared with his wife and children. The front door of their red-brick home faces the quarry.

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