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A.K.A.: "The Highwayman Serial Killer"
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Rape - Robberies
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: October-November 2002
Date of birth: 1972
Victims profile: An unidentified woman / Confidence Ramonyathi / Another unidentified woman / Grany Lekala / Beauty Ditshego
Method of murder: Strangulation - Blunt-force trauma to the head
Location: Pretoria, Gauteng Province, South Africa
Status: Sentenced to six life terms and a further 52 years imprisonment on September 5, 2004

Serial Killer suspect pleads not guilty

By Zelda Venter -

August 17, 2004

The Pretoria High Court on Monday heard how several women who came to Pretoria to look for work ended up being raped, strangled and robbed. In most cases, their decomposed bodies were found next to busy roads in the city's suburbs.

A 32-year-old Rosslyn man, Elias Chauke, is accused of the spate of killings and rapes which occurred over two months during 2002. On Monady, he pleaded not guilty to five charges of murder, four of rape and five of robbery. Chauke said he could not have committed the crimes because, at the times they were committed, he was not in that particular area.

The first victim was an unidentified woman who was raped and murdered in Rooihuiskraal. Her decomposed and naked body was discovered on October 7 2002, next to the R28 highway in the suburb. Her body was covered with a car seat cover.

Confidence Ramonyathi, an unemployed woman who left her home on October 8, 2002, to look for work in Pretoria, was killed next. Her badly decomposed and half-naked body was found nine days later, next to the N1 highway in the Waterkloof Heights area.

The next body discovered was that of another unidentified woman whose naked body was found on November 12 of that year, next to the R21 in Monument Park.

Grany Lekala left her home on November 13 2002, to look for work in the city after a man, allegedly the accused, promised to help her find a job. Her half-naked body was found the next day next to the R28 at Highveld Park in Centurion. Her blouse was wound around her neck and a used condom was found near her body, which was covered in a blanket. She too had been strangled.

A close friend of Lekala, Joyce Kabini, testified that she met Chauke in October 2002. He approached her and asked her whether she was looking for a job. She took his cellphone number and gave it to her friend, who was unemployed. Lekala apparently phoned Chauke and later met with him. She was never seen again.

Beauty Ditshego was the last victim mentioned in the charge sheet. She came to the city on November 14 2002, to shop. Her fully clothed body was found the next day alongside the N1 in Newlands.


Serial killer smiles as sentence is read

Pretoria News

September 7, 2004

A man known as Pretoria's "highwayman serial killer" smiled and took a drink of water after the Pretoria High Court sentenced him on Tuesday to six life terms and a further 52 years imprisonment.

Elias Chauke, 33, was convicted of murdering five women, of robbing three of them and of raping another one. The spate of killings occurred over two months during 2002 in the Pretoria area.

The state claimed that he raped nearly all his victims, but Acting Judge Khami Makhafola said the fact that semen was found at some of the scenes did not necessary mean that he raped his victims.

The father of two lured his five female victims into bushes after offering them employment. Some of the victims died due to blunt-force trauma to the head, while others were strangled. Most of the bodies were decomposing when they were found.

His first victim was an unidentified woman who was murdered in the Rooihuiskraal area. Her body was discovered in October 2002 next to the R28 highway. Her body was covered with a car seat cover.

Confidence Ramonyathi's body was found the next day next to the N1 highway in Waterkloof Heights. Her body was badly decomposed.

On November 12 2002 the body of an unidentified woman was found next to the R21 in Monument Park. The body of yet another victim, Granny Lekala, was found the next day (November 13) next to the R28 at Highveld Park in Centurion.

Beauty Ditshego's body, the last victim before Chauke was caught, was found on November 14 in Newlands, Pretoria. She too, was covered with a car seat cover.

Makhafola said all these women were defenceless females who tried to find work.

"In my view there are no mitigating factors. The crimes were committed in a bizarre and gruesome manner and the victims clearly suffered."

The judge said two women were still unidentified and their families are obviously still looking for them.

"The court must send out the message that such barbaric behaviour will not be tolerated," he said.

A police expert, Dr Gerhard Labuschagne, said Chauke's behaviour was typical of serial killers in South Africa. As in the other cases, he also used a promises of work to lure his victims away.

Labuschagne said the chance of rehabilitating a serial killer was low. He added that throughout the world there are no serial murder or serial rape offender rehabilitation programmes.

Meanwhile the families of the victims gasped in surprise when a relaxed looking Chauke asked the court for leave to appeal against his convictions and sentences. The court will hear the application later.

The family said they would never forgive Chauke for what he had done. They were happy that he will go to jail for life, but said it would not bring back the victims.



Elias Chauke



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