'They feel this is normal' - homeless victims unlikely to report crime, says lecturer

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The belongings of one of the people believed to have been murdered by a 'serial killer' are seen in Magnolia Park, Pretoria. (Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)
The belongings of one of the people believed to have been murdered by a 'serial killer' are seen in Magnolia Park, Pretoria. (Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

Homeless men in Tshwane who may have survived attacks by the so-called "nocturnal prowler" are unlikely to report the crimes to authorities, a criminology lecturer at the University of Pretoria said.

Lufuno Sadiki told News24 that homeless people avoid reporting crimes because of the complexities involved in doing so, such as not having a fixed address or being in the country illegally.

Since the start of June, the bodies of five middle-aged homeless men have been discovered in different parts of Muckleneuk, a suburb of Tshwane situated close to Sunnyside.

READ: Homeless killings – What we know so far about the Tshwane murders

Police have not said that the killings were the work of a serial killer, but they call the perpetrator the "nocturnal prowler".

It was only after the spate of murders that at least two other homeless men come forward and claimed that they had been attacked earlier this year. They did not report the attacks to the police.

READ: Pretoria homeless attack – Man in court but on a different docket

"They don’t give themselves victim status, because they are out on the streets. They feel this is normal, this is part and parcel of living on the streets," Sadiki said.

"Homeless people in my study, often victimised each other too, making reporting less likely to happen," she added.

Sadiki's research also found that homeless people were often victims of physical assault and theft because they were vulnerable and defenceless.

"Their vulnerability was also exacerbated by risky lifestyle behaviours - substance abuse as well as poor physical health, mental health issues (most never went to clinics or hospital, even when they were seriously injured when victimised) which makes it hard for them to defend themselves when attacked."

READ: EXCLUSIVE | Homeless Killings – Nocturnal prowler a balaclava-wearing lone wolf

News24 previously confirmed that police interviewed the two homeless men who said that they survived attacks

They reported that their attacker wore a balaclava, acted alone and pounced in the evening while they were sleeping.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters told News24 the task team established that the men had survived similar attacks in the area.

News24 also spoke to one man who believed that he was one of the first victims when he was attacked in May.

The man said he didn't open a case with the police because he thought it would be futile because he didn't know his attacker.

Sadiki believes that the only reason the men came forward was because of the public attention the case has received.

"I believe they approached police because there is now a willingness from police to engage with the homeless community.”

"Police have also been forced to engage homeless people to try and solve this crime."

She said that historically, the relationship between the homeless and the police was strained.

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