The Burgesfort Family Violence and Sexual Offenses Unit in Limpopo made a major breakthrough by apprehending a 31-year-old suspect in connection with nine rape cases that occurred in the Sekhukhune District between 2017 and 2018.
Limpopo Police Spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the suspect was tracked down and arrested in the Ga-Sekororo village near Tzaneen on Tuesday.
He said the team was diligently working around the clock to ensure the accused was indeed connected to the cases and linked with his two partners-in-crime who had been arrested.
The taxi driver and his two accomplices were arrested in October of 2018, where 10 young women aged between 19 and 32 had purportedly been raped and robbed of their belongings, with an identical mode of operation.
“The third suspect, together with the other two, were involved in a string of crimes spanning July 2017 to October 2018 across Mecklenburg, Driekop, Burgersfort and Apel, and was initially released for lack of evidence. However, through the use of forensic evidence, the suspect was re-arrested on Tuesday, finally putting an end to their reign of terror,” said Brigadier Mojapelo.
Brigadier Mojapelo reported that victims were systematically targeted while riding in taxis, as one perpetrator pepper sprayed them while the driver drove them to a secluded area. From there, the three criminals would take turns raping the victims, stealing their cellphones and handbags in the process.
“On July 29, 2017 at 9:45 pm, in the bushes near Ga-Selala village within the Mecklenburg policing area, a 32-year-old woman was reportedly raped and robbed by the driver and his companions. Fast-forwarding to September 16, 2018 in the same area, two women were purportedly subjected to a brutal gang rape and subsequently robbed of their belongings.”
At the time of their arrest, Brigadier Mojapelo declared that some of the stolen items had been found in the possession of one of the suspects.
Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, Limpopo Police Commissioner, praised the FCS Unit for their tireless efforts in putting the suspect and his accomplices behind bars. She further expressed that the Police will continue to work diligently to prioritize cases of Gender based violence.
The 31-year-old suspect is scheduled to appear in the Mecklenburg Magistrate’s Court on January 11, 2023 to apply for bail, and his two cohorts will follow him on February 22 when they present their own requests for bail.
The Brigadier, Mojapelo, declared that the three suspects are being charged with heinous crimes including rape, robbery, and possession of stolen items.