‘Spear man’ terror spree ends

2008-09-12 00:00

Police believe they have ended the reign of terror of “Spear Man”, a violent serial killer and armed robber who broke into homes around the Durban area, terrorising, raping and killing his victims with a traditional Zulu spear or assegai.

Petros Mcebenisi Mthethwa made a brief appearance in the Durban High Court yesterday, after which he was remanded into police custody for a further seven days for police to conduct more investigations.

Mthethwa is believed to be 26-years-old, but this is not certain as he does not have any identity documents and can barely read or write.

Mthethwa was arrested in Primrose, Gauteng, on Wednesday.

The KwaZulu-Natal house robbery unit has been on his trail for months, scouring shack settlements and abandoned buildings where Mthethwa was known to live.

Detective Inspector Keith Caswell described Mthethwa as “violent, ruthless and hard as nails”.

Mthethwa was shot earlier this year when a home invasion robbery he was leading backfired on him and the homeowner opened fire on him and his two accomplices. His right side bears two rough scars where a bullet tore through his flesh then exited out a ragged hole it tore in his skin.

Realising that hospitals report gunshot wounds to police, Mthethwa did not seek any medical attention for the wound.

His legs bear a scar where another of his victims stabbed him with his own spear during a failed home invasion robbery last year — again Mthethwa did not receive medical attention for this wound as he suspected police might be staking out hospital emergency rooms.

Lean, muscular and with darting eyes, Mthethwa told police he evaded their attempts to arrest him by sleeping under bridges and in the open where he could see and hear anyone approaching.

Mthethwa was originally arrested in November last year after allegedly shooting and killing a pregnant woman during an argument in Cato Manor. Detained at the Cato Manor police station, Mthethwa escaped after attacking one of the guards at mealtime, using a knife that he had managed to smuggle into the cells.

Only after his escape did the results of fingerprint examinations come back, linking him to two murders, 15 armed robberies and numerous violent attacks on women.

Within the first three weeks of his escape, Mthethwa is known to have attacked three people with his spear. Police have yet to establish just how many murders and armed robberies he is responsible for, but believe the number may be high and possibly include victims in Gauteng, where he committed at least one home invasion while on the run from KZN police.

Abandoned at a young age by his father after he took a second, much younger wife, Mthethwa allegedly developed a hatred for women, who often bore the brunt of his wrath during attacks.

“We have numerous cases that all bear a modus operandi similar to those he has confessed to so far. The problem is that in many cases he simply cannot remember the murders — human life means absolutely nothing to this person and killing someone seems so trivial to him that we may as well be asking him to remember what he ate on the days of the killings,” said Caswell.

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