News24 can exclusively confirm that two people who may have been attacked by the nocturnal prowler, who is suspected of targeting homeless people in Muckleneuk in Tshwane, have told police that the attacker wore a balaclava and attacked them during the evening while they were sleeping.
A high-level task team has been established to investigate the spate of murders of homeless people in the area after a fifth body was discovered on Wednesday.
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters confirmed to News24 on Wednesday evening that the team has established that two homeless men recently survived similar attacks in the area. The two men did not approach the police about the attacks until now.
The men reported that their attacker wore a balaclava, attacked them during the evening while they were sleeping and acted alone.
While police have been mum on whether the spate of murders was the work of a serial killer, they have called the suspect the nocturnal prowler.
Earlier on Wednesday, News24 and other media outlets at the scene spoke to one of the homeless men who lives in Magnolia Park in Muckleneuk. He believes he may have been the first victim of the nocturnal prowler after he was attacked in May.
The man, who declined to reveal his identity, believes he may have been one of the first victims, after waking up in the early hours of the morning in May to a man violently stabbing him.
The man recounted his ordeal, saying the attack happened at around 03:00 and his attacker was wearing a black hooded jacket and wielding a large knife.
"I was the first to be stabbed," he claimed.
"I was sleeping, he was silent and just started stabbing me. He didn't say anything."
The man then managed to jump up and ran into the street screaming. His attacker then ran away.
"He was running like a ghost," he explained, recalling that the man was fast and silent as he ran away.
The homeless man doesn't remember how he got to a nearby hospital, but said he was treated for several stab wounds on his left arm, stomach and knee in Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
The man said he didn't open a case with the police because he thought it would be futile as he didn't know his attacker.
He added that there was another man who was attacked in the area after him, who also managed to survive.
'I don't sleep alone'
The man, who works as a recycler now, says he is terrified of sleeping alone and that other homeless people have now opted to either leave the Muckleneuk area at night or sleep in groups.
"[There are] very few people sleeping here. The ones [who] are staying are [sleeping] in a group now," he told News24.
"Even me. Now I don't sleep alone."
The wound on the knee of the man who claims he was stabbed several times in Magnolia Park. (Alex Mitchley)
Another homeless man who sleeps in Magnolia Park said that if he isn't helped, he might be the next to die.
The man, who also did not want to be named, could not understand why they were being targeted because they did not have money or valuable belongings.
He questioned whether the killer was a sangoma or mentally disturbed.
He also said that homeless people have now opted to sleep in groups.
"We are sleeping in groups… but when someone is approaching a lot of people, no one will rise because they will be afraid for their life.
"No one will raise his head. No one can try to do something because it's night and we don't have anything."
"So even if someone is crying there, I cannot run and say I want to help. How can [I]?"
We are all scared
Several other homeless men and people who work in the Muckleneuk area have said they are terrified that they may be next and that they have no means to defend themselves.
One street vendor said people in the area was scared because they didn't know who was targeting the homeless and why they were being targeted.
He said that a part of Magnolia Park was home to dozens of people but since the murders started, most people leave the area in the evenings and find other parks to sleep in.
The manager of Huckleberrys' restaurant, Chris Letswalo, said the business has suffered since the news broke because patrons opted to stay away.
They have also had a massive decline in people making bookings for functions at the restaurant in Magnolia Park.
Letswalo added that he has been working at the restaurant for eight years and has never heard of a single murder in the area, until now.
Fifth body found
On Wednesday morning, police confirmed that a fifth body had been discovered at a bus stop near the Unisa main campus.
The first body was found almost three weeks ago in a veld near the Mears Park train station. Two more bodies were found in Magnolia Park on June 8 and 9. The fourth body was on a pavement on the corner of Justice Mohammed and Troye streets on Tuesday.
All five victims were found in different parts of Muckleneuk. Police have also confirmed that the five were homeless middle-aged males. They were all killed at night.
News24 also understands that all victims were either stabbed, suffered blunt force trauma from a heavy object or injuries inflicted in both manners. However, post mortems conducted by the task team will conclusively identify the cause of death in each case.
The tree where the man was sleeping under in Magnolia Park when he was allegedly attacked and stabbed several times. (Alex Mitchley)