South Africa’s justice system is failing those who need it most, leaving grieving families with no closure.
Residents of Seshego, Limpopo, remain on edge amid the repeated postponements of the case against alleged serial killer Themba Prince Willard Dube (34). He appeared in the Seshego Magistrates’ Court on Thursday on seven charges of kidnapping and murder, and a count of illegal immigration.
After the court appearance, community leader Mmanana Khumalo told City Press: “We, as the community, are beyond livid.”
Scores of Seshego residents displaying placards with the words “Stop killing us, illegal foreigner, enough” as well as “No bail” demonstrated outside the court during Dube’s appearance, calling for justice to be served and for him to be sentenced.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Limpopo said: “The director of public prosecutions Advocate Ivy Thenga has decided that Dube will be tried at the Polokwane High Court. The matter is remanded to February 28 2022 at Seshego Magistrates’ Court for further investigations and to get DNA results.”
Khumalo, who is a close friend of the family of one of the victims, Mpho Sinyatsi, went on to tell City Press that she had yet to be laid to rest. “The family is not okay at all. They need closure.”
Sinyatsi, who was from Luthuli Park Extension 9L in the Seshego policing precinct, was reported missing by her family in October 2021.
Her sister, Tshegofatso Manaka (25), was in court on Thursday. Speaking to City Press while sobbing, she said: “It is too difficult to talk about, but what can we do? We went to court today hoping to hear something tangible, but all we can do now is mourn and wait to bury our sister.”
As she gasped for breath, she added: “We will be in court every day if need be, until what needs to be done is done.”
On October 13, Sinyatsi left her home after having been promised a job and was not seen alive again by her family or friends.
Police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said that, while the police’s forensic laboratory faces a DNA testing backlog, cases of gender-based violence and those involving women, children and the vulnerable should be top priority.
She told City Press:
“In May last year we had a backlog in excess of 200 000 cases, but the number has decreased considerably.”
Themba added that the department had put together a turnaround strategy aimed at clearing the backlog.
“We have a turnaround strategy which is multifaceted and includes the evaluation of contracts, as some had lapsed as there was no proper management,” she told City Press.
“Yes, we do admit that there are backlogs and we had given ourselves 18 months to have the matter addressed, but it could take less.”
Dube, a Zimbabwean national, was arrested on November 3 2021 for the possession of a suspected stolen cellphone that belonged to a woman who was allegedly kidnapped in Lebowakgomo in October.
He appeared in court on a charge of robbery and kidnapping on November 5 and was in custody when the investigations led to the discovery of seven bodies of women dumped at different locations in the Seshego, Polokwane, Mankweng and Westenburg areas.
Speaking to City Press last year, Seshego residents expressed how the community had been living in fear following the kidnappings and murders, despite the subsequent arrest of the alleged serial killer.
According to the NPA, the following victims have been positively identified: Sarah Moitswadi Mathiba, Moleboheng Mothibeli, Eva Khomotso Makhura, Andrea Cholo, Chisimango Gumbo and Jane Letswalo.