Officer’s hardest case

2014-07-19 00:00

AFTER four years of fighting for justice and endless court hearings, Captain Bonginkosi Mncube could finally put his biggest case to rest.

On Thursday, Hawks member ­Mncube’s hunt for the man who terrorised the town, saw a serial killer and rapist from Empangeni handed five life sentences.

Ntokozo Mthimkhulu (36) was sentenced to five life terms plus 42 years’ imprisonment for five counts of rape, five of robbery and five of murder in the Mthunzini high court on Thursday.

Mncube started the investigation in September 2010 after the bodies of five women were discovered over a period of time in a sugarcane field in the Empangeni area.

“I’ve been exposed to serious crimes for so long, but this had been the hardest case in my 19 years of service,” he said. “It was difficult to figure out if some of the women had been strangled or shot, because their bodies had been so badly decomposed by the time they were discovered.”

Mncube’s breakthrough came when cellphones and other stolen items found on Mthimkhulu, were traced back to the victims. He was arrested in September 2012.

It was careful tracking of cellphone networks detailing the use of the victims’ cellphones, that initially led to Mthimkhulu’s arrest.

In the end, it was DNA and persistent police work that put him behind bars.

“We first linked the murders because they all had been robbed, raped, strangled and their bodies were left in the same sugarcane field.

“What shocked me at first was that this man was so handsome and so unassuming; I didn’t understand until I spoke to him and knew by his attitude that this was definitely the guy.”

During the investigation, Mncube had to make a conscious decision not to let the job impact on his own family life.

Not an easy task, he admits, as “this case had hit home”.

“I am a father and I have kids. Some of the murdered women left behind kids.”

He said often people like the rapist have gotten away with one offence, and “they feel that they have graduated and commit worse offences”.

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