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David Simelane is guilty

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MBABANE – Serial killer David Simelane slumped in his chair in the dock and looked towards the ceiling after High Court judge Justice Jacobus Annandale found him guilty on 28 of 35 murder charges yesterday.

He was, however, acquitted on six counts and one was withdrawn.

This was the climax of a long running case which followed his arrest on April 25 2001 in Nhlangano after being linked to the death of the women whose bodies and skeletons were discovered in forests around Malkerns.

Dressed in a black shirt with white spots, khaki trousers and light-brown sneakers, Simelane appeared to tremble as he stood while the High Court judge pronounced the 28 guilty verdicts and acquitted him on six murders. One murder charge was withdrawn.

Simelane, who had appeared calm when the judge began going over excerpts from his 232-page judgment, soon wore a stern face and dropped his body to lean on the accused box with his right elbow as Annandale pronounced guilty verdicts on almost all of the charges against him.

When Justice Annandale said he was about to read the verdict on each of Simelane’s counts, the 55-year old serial killer held both his hands together and began fidgeting his fingers.

The fidgeting started when the judge first spoke of the initial 45 bodies that were uncovered, but said Simelane eventually had to face 35 murder charges.

The convicted serial killer would sporadically draw huge breaths and this was specifically witnessed when the judge spoke about the voluminous judgment, which he said would be impossible to read completely in court.

The serial killer also seemed shaky when the judge referred to Simelane’s confession before the late Magistrate Charles Masango, which Annandale said had been admitted to court as evidence.

Simelane began moving his body to and fro in the dock, when the judge announced guilty verdicts for the first two counts.

He occasionally moved his eyes around the courtroom but avoided direct eye-contact with the judge for most of the time.

With Justice Annandale pronouncing guilty verdict after guilty verdict, Simelane looked away as if holding back tears but forced a wry smile.

However, the guilty verdicts seemed to get the better of him as he failed to maintain an upright posture and leaned forward on the witness box with his elbow, while his body seemed to shake.

After the judge had gone over all the verdicts of the 35 murder counts, finding Simelane guilty on 28, the accused bowed his head briefly while his lawyer spoke to His Lordship about a date for possible sentencing.

As the judge and Mabila negotiated the date for sentencing, Simelane simply collapsed into his chair and looked upwards, but his gaze was met only by the courtroom ceiling.

He picked up the bottle of water which was placed inside the dock but did not take a sip of the liquid. He simply held onto the container with his right hand. He was soon ordered by the judge to stand up again and was informed that he should be back in court on April 1, 2011.

Simelane remained silent and, as soon as the judge exited the courtroom, the serial killer was led down the stairway leading to the High Court holding cells.

He is among world’s worst serial killers

MBABANE – Yesterday’s conviction of David Simelane has listed him among the world’s worst serial killer.

This is based on the number of proven victims linked to Simelane.

According to the 2003 Macmillan Encyclopaedia of Death and Dying by Sandra Burkhalter Chmelir, the world’s worst serial killer is Harold Shipman, a British doctor who had 218 proven victims.

Shipman mostly targeted his patients, a majority of whom were elderly women, whom he killed with lethal injections of diamorphine.

Moses Sithole is Africa’s worst serial killer, and ranks 17th in the world, with 38 proven victims.

Sithole preyed on unemployed women, posing as a businessman, luring his victims with prospects of a job before leading them into an isolated place where he raped, tortured and murdered them.

He was sentenced to 2 410 years in jail with a non-parole period of 930 years.

Simelane, who was yesterday convicted for the murders of 28 women, ranks 23rd in the world after United State’s Jane Toppan who had 31 proven victims.

Simelane, like Sithole, is reported to have targeted unemployed women who he promised jobs before leading them into a forest where they were murdered.

Judge takes 35mins to pass judgment

MBABANE – It took High Court judge Justice Jacobus Annandale exactly 35 minutes to go over the excerpts of David Simelane’s judgment.

The time it took would have been much less had there been no need to translate the judgment into siSwati.

It was at 9:07am when the judge began going over the judgment, which he admitted to be a huge document that he could not read and finish yesterday.

He, therefore, simply read parts of the judgment and then went over the counts one after the other, pronouncing their respective verdicts. At 9:42am, the judge was finished and began negotiating with the DPP and defence counsel over a possible date for sentencing, which was tentatively set for April 1, 2011.

Women call for celebrations

MBABANE – Women yesterday called for celebrations after suspected serial killer David Thabo Simelane was found guilty on 28 counts of murder.

They however complained that the 10 year period it had taken thus far to convict Simelane was too long and needed to be avoided in future.

Interviewed after High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale had concluded Simelane’s judgment, women and social rights activists said they were ecstatic that the accused person had finally been convicted for the deaths of 28 women.

"The 28 women who lost their lives are being honoured here today. The fact that someone took away their lives is being recognised by the courts. These women need to be celebrated," Cebile Manzini-Henwood, who is Director of the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), said.

She nonetheless expressed disappointment that Simelane was acquitted on six other murder counts and said: "It would be interesting to read how he was acquitted on the six counts. These are also women who were killed and somebody was responsible for their deaths."

The SWAGAA boss said women all over the world have been supportive to their local counterparts and had awaited the outcome of Simelane’s trial with interest.

"Women all over the world have been shedding tears with us, calling for justice to take its course. Even women who were not here today were present in spirit," Manzini-Henwood said.

On the time the trial has taken, she commented: "The long wait was not justified. We have to look at the reasons that cause cases of gender-based violence to be postponed for so long."

Cops not clear on E50 000 reward

MBABANE – Despite the arrest and yesterday’s conviction of David Simelane, police still cannot payout the promised E50 000 reward.

On April 11, 2001 Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula (deputy commissioner at the time), said a cash reward of E50 000 would be offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible for the deaths of the women.

The police eventually arrested Simelane upon being alerted by a man, identified as Mphaya Khanya, whose wife went missing shortly after she was seen in the company of the serial killer who then trailed the suspect until his arrest. When the police were contacted yesterday to find out if the man who gave them the information would finally be paid, spokesperson Superintendent Wendy Hleta said the person would not get the money yet.

"The police haven’t received any record saying David has been convicted. For now, this (conviction) remains hearsay to us," Hleta said.

She added: "Because we still do not know if he has been convicted, we cannot entertain the issue of the E50 000 reward."

Hleta said they would only address the issue once they get the conviction records but even then they would have to make confirmation.

"I would have to go back to our records to find out if indeed such a reward was made because I wasn’t in office at that time," Hleta said.

‘We feared case was getting weaker’

MBABANE - Social justice activist Thuli Brilliance Makama said the judgment had to be celebrated because at one point people thought the prosecution’s case appeared weaker.

"I also think celebrating will bring closure to the families of the women who were killed. The judgment has also brought back trust and confidence in the justice system especially from the gender-based violence groups," Makama said.

She then decried the time the trial has taken: "10 years is too long to wait for justice but credit must go to the DPP’s office for the convictions. It was a first for all of us but we need to improve on the number of years."

Yesterday, however, around 50 women were present and most of them arrived late when the judge had already begun going over excerpts of the judgment.

I understand what happened - David

MBABANE – Convicted serial killer David Thabo Simelane says he understands the judgment that finds him guilty on 28 murder counts.

Simelane told this to his lawyer Mduduzi ‘Tsotsi’ Mabila, soon after High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale had read excerpts from the 232-page judgment on the serial killer’s 35 murder charges.

As Simelane exited the accused box and headed down the stairway leading to the High Court holding cells in the company of prison warders, Mabila indicated he would like to have a word with his client.

The warders then waited with Simelane at the end of the stairway, where Mabila spoke to him and briefly explained the meaning of the judgment. He alerted Simelane, to the judge’s comments, that there was no single charge the DPP proved without linking it to the serial killer’s confession.

"There is hope because the judge has spoken about the confession and therefore I have to go over the judgment and then take it from there. But there is hope. Do you understand what happened?" Mabila asked Simelane.

With the water bottle still in his right hand, Simelane, whose voice appeared to shake a bit, moved closer to Mabila and said: "I do understand what happened."

Mabila then promised to get back to Simelane after reading the judgment to discuss their next step.

Simelane then exchanged goodbyes with his lawyer, before disappearing down the stairs with the warders.


Comments

This case has dragged for so long but one thing for sure its going for an appeal. cant wait to get to know the sentence. Madvudvu kulabalahlekelwa.
Mar 24, 2011, 10:05 AM, maya

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