Freed suspect found in PMB

2012-03-05 00:00

JOHANNESBURG police arrested the notorious “birthday rapist” in a swoop on a house in the Pietermaritzburg city centre yesterday morning.

Police refused to give The Witness details of exactly where in the city Mlungisi Mtshali (28) was arrested, saying it would jeopardise their case.

He allegedly raped women after luring them into central Johannesburg and Hillbrow hotels after first inviting them to celebrate his birthday at restaurants and bars.

Mtshali was supposed to have gone on trial for 128 charges including rape, fraud, robbery and kidnapping last week. However, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) “erroneously released” him after he had served three months for escaping from prison while awaiting trial.

Johannesburg police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Tshisikhawe Ndou confirmed the arrest. “At the moment we cannot reveal the details around his arrest as this case is sensitive and the investigations are ongoing.” He said Mtshali appeared to have been staying at the house in downtown Pietermaritzburg and was not with any accomplices. Also confirming the arrest, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga said: “I was told he did not offer any resistance.”

After inviting women to celebrate his birthday, Mtshali would allegedly ask one of them to accompany him to fetch his sister or a friend, taking a metered taxi into Hillbrow or central Johannesburg.

Mtshali then allegedly lured the women into hotel rooms under the pretext of fetching his sister, the friend, or his luggage, and rape them.

Although his alleged crimes were committed in the Johannesburg area, he was first arrested at KwaMashu, north of Durban, in 2010.

He escaped from police custody last year and was re-arrested.

On November 14 last year, he was sentenced to three months imprisonment for the minor crime of escape. He served his sentence in a Medium A section in Johannesburg. Department of Correctional Services (DCS) deputy commissioner Zach Modise admitted DCS had been negligent.

“We have already instituted an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding Mtshali’s release and appropriate internal steps will be taken against those involved and to ensure that similar incidents don’t occur in future,” he said.

Mhaga said the NPA was making arrangements for Mtshali to appear in the Johannesburg Regional Court today.

“We are hoping that we will get all the witnesses so we can proceed with the trial [today].

“We commend the police for their tireless effort to ensure he was arrested and behind bars in such a short space of time,” Mhaga said.

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