Swaziland serial killer David Simelane
April 2, 2011
A serial killer
responsible for at least 28 deaths in the southern African state
of Swaziland has been sentenced to death by hanging.
A judge handed down the sentence nine days
after David Simelane was convicted.
His lawyer said he would appeal against both
the verdict and the sentence.
The killings are thought to have begun in the
late 1990s and lasted until 2001 when police arrested Simelane
after a tip-off.
He led the police to shallow graves where 45
bodies were found altogether, including several pregnant women.
The serial killer was charged with 34 murders
and convicted of 28.
No executions have been carried out in
Swaziland since 1983
By Sibonginkosi Mamba -
April 2, 2011
After being found guilty of killing
28 women, David Simelane was on Friday sentenced to death by
Judge Jacobus Annandale. Simelane was arrested in 2001 after a
number of women were reportedly missing. Most of these left
their homes under the guise they had been found employment by
Before delivering the sentence the judge
stated that it (sentencing) was the most difficult aspect of any
“Your matter has been before this court for
an enormously long time and determination of the appropriate
sentence is the most difficult part,” he said.
He stated that over the years of the trial,
the court had acquainted itself with facts of the matter but
never before had it heard of such a number of counts of
“I carefully use the word premeditated simply
because you have mentioned it that you committed the crimes
after you were convicted for an offence you had not committed,”
the judge directed to Simelane.
Annandale said he, himself, would have
sympathy for a person who is convicted for an offence he has not
committed but stated there was a procedure to deal with such
“What is not acceptable is for you to revenge
on women and your hatred was not focused on the women only but
on innocent infants,” he stated.
The judge said Simelane could not be released
from the Correctional Services and said there was no easy way
“However, I cannot overlook the atrocities
you have done on defenceless women and you have not asked this
court to be lenient on you probably because you were on a
revenge,” Annandale noted.
In the end he said he had come to the
unenviable task of pronouncing the sentence where he said he was
only left with two options.
“On the one hand, I have considered the 28
people which could equal to 700 years and the other is death
penalty as the Director of Public Prosecutions has pointed out,”
The judge stated that in most cases the
aspect of sentence was entirely discretional but he did say that
in certain crimes of murder, the court was enjoined by the
Criminal Procedure Act of 1938 where the death sentence can be
passed. He said even then there were certain aspects to be
Annandale stated that Simelane killed 28
women and someone who had done that could not be allowed to live
He said since he started working on the
judgment, he did not know what the outcome would be.
“I have always asked myself what the sentence
would be and it boiled down to the two options,” he disclosed.
“Mr. Simelane or Mhlanga you shall hang by your neck till you
die,” he ruled.
His trial began in 2004 and about 83
witnesses testified against him. At the beginning of the trial,
Simelane was represented by attorney, Lucky Howe, who was at
some stage, fired as pro deo counsel after accusations that he
was delaying the case.
However, Simelane engaged Howe as a private
attorney, but was eventually forced to drop him because of the
In came top criminal attorney, Mduduzi Mabila
who saw the case taking a new twist with Simelane saying he
killed no one despite a confession which he had made before the
late Magistrate Charles Masango.
You never showed any remorse - Judge
Judge Jacobus Annandale noted that throughout
the trial, serial killer, David Simelane never showed any
remorse nor apologised to the friends and families of the
victims he murdered.
The judge stated that this was probably
because Simelane premeditated the commission of the offences.
“You have more than once stated that you were upset with the
conviction of a rape you had not committed,” the judge stated.
Justice Annandale lamented the
fact that Simelane decided to revenge on any woman he met. “You
have not shown an iota of remorse and the court cannot find you
remorseful,” he said. He mentioned that he considered taking
Simelane to the witness box so that he could speak for himself
and say whether he was sorry or remorseful.
“I cannot compel you to say sorry nor do I
expect you to say that this court convicted you correctly.”
He stated that during his last conviction
Simelane decided what he wanted to do and went ahead and killed
a large number of Swazi women and children. He said ever since
the trial began the court had never heard a single word of
apology. “There is not even a single half-hearted attempt to
show remorse,” he stated. Further, Annandale said even the
friends and families of the victims never got an apology from
“The only thing that appears is revenge,” he
stated. However, Simelane’s lawyer, Mduduzi Mabila said Simelane
had been kept at the maximum prison since his arrest and was not
allowed to see other people. “That is the reason he could not
say his apologies,” Mabila reasoned.
There are no extenuating factors -
Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy
Dlamini, says there were no extenuating factors which would have
otherwise led serial killer David Simelane to kill 28 people.
Dlamini said Simelane was a previous convict
who soon after his release, embarked on a killing spree because
he was vengeful.
In his confession, Simelane stated that he
killed women simply because he had been convicted of rape, an
offence he denies ever committing. He said he robbed the woman
but never raped her.
The judge further stated that while serving
his sentence, Simelane thought of revenge which he did after his
“I do not see any extenuating circumstances
in this matter. The reason stated in the confession does not
extenuate at all,” Dlamini argued. She pointed out the issue of
the murder of children.
“If he killed women because they fabricated a
story for him, what about the children?” she said.
Simelane’s lawyer, Mabila, submitted that
Simelane committed the offences out of revenge because of
injustices done to him. Mabila said this was the court’s finding
in the confession hence it should be applied subjectively as
opposed to objectively.
“The court should apply the subjective test
in dealing with the confession. Its truthfulness should not be
selective,” he pleaded.
Judge Annandale confessed that in the past he
had to bend in order to find extenuating circumstances in murder
“I have elevated the flimsiest of excuses or
remorse to enable the court find extenuating circumstances,
however, not with the present matter,” he stated.
He said the court could not fall for the
reason that Simelane killed the people because of a conviction
on a crime he had not committed.
“Even if it was so, how would it apply to the
infants that were killed?” the judge said.
Judge Annandale stated that based on
everything put in court, he could not find any extenuating
circumstances which could prevent him from meting a death
Simelane’s lawyer said the death sentence was not mandatory but
he left it to the court to determine the appropriate sentence.
death or 700 years in jail
David Simelane was between a
rock and a hard place on Friday at the High Court. This was
because presiding judge, Jacobus Annandale stated that after
careful consideration of all that had been put before court, it
all boiled down to two options.
Annandale said Simelane’s release was not one
of those options. “One the one hand, I considered that for the
28 people you could be sentenced to 700 years in jail and the
other could be death sentence as the Crown has suggested,” he
said. He revealed that the sentencing stage was the most
difficult but eventually said Simelane was going to be hanged
until he died. He said owing to the atrocities that Simelane had
done to women and children, he could not be allowed to live with
society hence he condemned him to death.
Judge warns celebrating people
Soon after hearing that serial killer, David
Simelane was going to be hanged, the public on the gallery
forgot for a moment they were in court and celebrated.
However; this did not go down well with Judge
Annandale. He said a person was going to be killed and did not
know why they were celebrating.
“This is bad. You should be shocked,” the
judge stated. The public gallery was filled to rafters with
people who wanted to know Simelane’s fate. After the judgment,
most of them felt justice had been done which is why they
Mabila to appeal on the confession
David Simelane’s lawyer, Mduduzi Tsotsi
Mabila will appeal on the admissibility of the confession which
Simelane made before Magistrate Charles Masango.
The said confession was recorded on the 8th
May 2001 after Simelane was arrested in Nhlangano.
Mabila complained during trial that at the
time the confession was made, Simelane ought not to have been in
police custody but Correctional services.
He further said the confession was not
voluntarily recorded because Simelane was threatened with death.
Simelane himself also stated in the witness box that the he did
not record the confession voluntarily.
He told the court that the late
Superintendent Jomo Mavuso had warned him that if he did comply
with the police, he was going to die in their custody.
He (Simelane) further said he was suffocated
and that upon entering the room, where such was done to him, the
late Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla was shocked that he was alive.
On Friday, Mabila argued that the said
confession must be taken by the court wholly because it had
admitted it as evidence.
“Irrespective of the fact that we are going
to challenge the confession, it must be taken in all its four
corners,” he argued.
He pleaded with the court to apply a
subjective test in dealing with the confession as opposed to
objectively and that its truthfulness should not be selective.
In the said confession, Simelane confessed to
have killed the women by strangling them to death with his own
Judgment was not influenced -
Judge Jacobus Annandale says the court’s
ruling in the case of serial killer David Simelane was not
influenced by women organisations or any other person.
He said the court had on its shoulders only
the interest of society but stressed that no one influenced its
“This court has not been pressured or
influenced by women organisations or any one on how to deal with
this matter,” he boldly stated. He said the court was enjoined
to consider the seriousness of the crime.
“I cannot overlook the atrocities you have
done to defenceless women,” he said to Simelane.
Further, Annandale noted that Simelane had
not asked the court to be lenient towards him probably because
he did the crimes out of revenge.
He conceded, however, that coming to
sentencing was the most unenviable aspect of a case. He said
ever since the court started working on the conclusions of the
case, he had wondered what the outcome would be. Annandale
further admitted that never in the history of the court had it
heard of such a number of counts of premeditated murder.
Simelane stated that he killed
the women out of revenge, having been convicted of rape, an
offence he never committed. This was, however, rejected by the
judge who said such a grief could have been dealt with the
“What is not acceptable is for you to revenge
on women and innocent infants,” Annandale stated.
He argued that having been convicted 18
times, Simelane ought to have known how to deal with his
dissatisfaction regarding his conviction.
“But during your last years in prison, you
decided what you wanted to do and went ahead and killed a large
number of Swazi women and children and a person who has done
that cannot be allowed to live in society,” he noted.
... David has 18 previous convictions
David Simelane was convicted 18 times before
being found guilty of murder.
This was revealed on Friday during the
mitigation before he was sentenced to death.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy
Dlamini presented evidence to that effect and when the judge
asked Simelane if it was true, he responded to the affirmative.
“Do you confirm that you were convicted
before,” Judge Annandale enquired from Simelane.
“Yes My Lord, it is true,” he responded.
Simelane was convicted of rape and robbery cases between 1993 to
However, his lawyer, Mabila, argued that the
previous convictions were irrelevant to the present one because
they were committed more than 10 years ago and that they were
not similar to murder, which Simelane is guilty of.
But the DPP argued that nor sooner had
Simelane been released than he started committing crimes.
“The offences are relevant. It was attack
after attack on other people,” she stated.
Mabila wondered how robbery convictions could
be competent verdict for murder. Mabila further decried the fact
that there was no evidence when Simelane was released from
I could hang David – hangman
Swaziland’s long serving hangman, Lusiba Paul
‘Touch’ Simelane says were it not for his advanced age, he would
definitely be ready to hang serial killer David Simelane if
called to do so.
He says he would be looking forward to the
assignment, especially because David was a peculiar case unheard
of in the history of the country by killing 28 people.
Touch adds that he can’t wait to hear the
sentence because previously, killers were paroled after doing a
very short time in prison and claiming to be born again
“I know this job and I have been doing it for
years. Most of those who joined the police force with us are now
dead. We worked hard at the prisons and gained a lot of
experience. Were it not for age I would still hang David.”
Ironically, Touch has the same surname as David.
The hangman reveals that they used to work as
a team when handling dangerous criminals and murderers. Judges
of the High Court a decade ago were joined by journalists to
inspect the country’s prisons, including the hangman’s chamber
at Sidvwashini prison.
When warders demonstrated to the judges how
convicts on deathrow were hanged, they all scampered away as the
lever was pulled for the body to dangle from the noose.
Touch’s last assignment was in the early 80s
but since then, no one has been hanged in Swaziland even though
capital punishment is enshrined in the constitution.
Relaxed at his home in Sidvwashini, where
sells his popular tripe dish, injebovu, Touch recalls the case
of one Maseko of Lamgabhi, who was sentenced to 43 years for a
string of cases and the public felt the judge was too harsh.
Touch also says David could not be possibly
alone to kill so many people and that the country still deserves
to know the reason why all the killings.
In 1998, there were widespread reports that
Swaziland was looking for a hangman and it was around the same
time that Touch said Swaziland should look no further because he
was there with all the experience and would love to take up the
job. At the time it was reported that there were 15 prisoners
waiting to be hanged.
At the time, urgent adverts from the ministry
of justice said the government was seeking a “brave young man
who has what it takes” to start immediately and help relieve the
growing pressure on maximum-security facilities at Matsapha
prison. The last person to be hanged was Phillipa Mdluli, who
killed her domestic servant’s daughter to extract body parts for
In South Africa, serial killer
Moses Sithole killed 41 people. In Botswana a serial killer who
made news two years ago is said to have killed six.
guilty of 28 counts of murder, wins only six
By Sabelo Mamba and
Sibonginkosi Mamba - Observer.org.sz
March 24, 2011
SERIAL killer David Thabo Simelane
has been found guilty of murder. Simelane, who was facing murder
34 murder charges, was yesterday convicted of 28 counts. He will
know his sentence next Friday.
He was acquitted on six after spending 10
years in custody without his unduly protracted trial brought to
High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale based his
232-page bumper verdict on confession statements Simelane made
to the late Manzini Magistrate Charles Masango and former
Manzini Magistrate Nkosinathi Nkonyane (now Industrial Court
Judge) after his arrest in April 2001 in Nhlangano.
Initially, Simelane was facing 35 murder
charges. One was withdrawn by the Crown during the course of the
High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale said the
identification of personal property which used to belong to
missing relatives that were recovered either in the immediate
areas where the human remains were found or from a place where
Simelane had taken the police to, “justifies the only reasonable
conclusion that can be drawn the deceased persons are those lost
relatives who used to own the personal belongings.”
The judge also stated that it was clear that
Simelane killed the women out of revenge after he was allegedly
incarcerated for a rape he never committed. It is clear, the
judge noted, Simelane was angry.
The judge said it was this body of evidence
which proved the commissioning of the individual crimes, which
Simelane confessed to, fortified by himself when he pointed out
the different scenes to the police.
“When relatives positively swear to the fact
that particular items used to belong to a missing person and it
is not gainsayed, such uncontroverted evidence readily be
dismissed at a whim,” remarked the judge.
Justice Annandale observed
that the well established patterns of evidence were present in
all counts, from the very beginning when the female victims were
enticed by the accused to take up employment somewhere.
He said a key witness in this trial was
Detective Solomon Mavuso (PW 79).
“His evidence served to detail the overall
process from the time when reports about missing persons started
to escalate, the discovery of human remains in isolated areas,
the collection of evidence which culminated in a firm
description of the suspect person, then the events which
followed after the arrest of the accused, the confession,
pointing out, evidence gathering, the identification processes
and ultimately the indictment of the accused. His evidence is
voluminous and detailed,” he said.
Simelane was represented by Mduduzi ‘Tsotsi’
Mabila while Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini
appeared for the Crown.
David murdered victims out of revenge
- Judge Annandale
DAVID Thabo Simelane murdered his victims out
of revenge after being previously convicted for raping a woman,
High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale accepts.
Remarked Justice Annandale; “Although the
establishment of motive for the crime of murder does not carry
remotely the same prominence in our law as contrast with
American jurisprudence, the accused has volunteered his motive
for the multiple murders as part of his confession.”
The judge said Simelane, in his confession
statement, said it was out of revenge for having been
incarcerated for the crime of rape which he did not commit.
“He admits to having robbed the same woman
but he says that he was grossly and unfairly treated by also
having wrongly been convicted and imprisoned for having raped
the same woman, hence his revenge,” he said.
“The court accepts that he murdered the
victims out of revenge. This dispels the often mooted diverse
theories and speculation in the media that he had some more
sinister motives, or that he was assisted by highly placed
persons, or that he harvested body parts for equally sinister,
undisclosed but highly placed individuals,” said the judge.
Mabila to appeal
DAVID Simelane’s lawyer Mduduzi Tsotsi Mabila
has stated that he will appeal the verdict of the case of his
Simelane was found guilty of killing 28 women.
Mabila made his intentions known soon after
judgment had been delivered. He argued that a suspect cannot be
convicted on the basis of a confession.
“There must be evidence,” he argued.
He further stated that the said confession
was vague and was allegedly forged. He stated though that he was
still going to go through the written judgment.
During trial, Simelane stated that he made
the confession under duress.
He said police officers had told him what to
say before the magistrate and threatened him with death if he
ever deviated from what he had been ordered to say.
Simelane told the court that the late
Superintendent Jomo Mavuso actually told him that he was going
to die at the hands of the police if he did not admit to having
killed the missing people. According to Simelane, another top
detective, the late Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla, was annoyed when
he found him alive at Sigodvweni police after being suffocated
by police under his (Ndlangamandla) instruction.
...David was ready for
verdict - Mabila
Mduduzi Mabila disclosed yesterday.
Mabila said his client was prepared for
“I had indicated to him that there is no draw
in a trial and he was ready,” he revealed. Simelane was found
guilty in 28 counts. At present, Mabila stated that he had the
duty to explain to his client what the verdict means and what
the next step is.
Senators share different views on
SENATORS expressed different views on serial
killer David Simelane’s guilty verdict.
Whilst Senator Victor Malambe said it would
be unfair if the serial killer would be sentenced without him
explaining why he killed the 28 women, Senator Moi Moi Masilela
said lawyers dragged the case for personal gains. Some of the
senators said justice has been delayed, stating that though it
was a good thing that the case would be put to rest it was not
going to bring total closure to the relatives.
Here is what the senators had to say:
Moi Moi Maselela – “David could have been
charged for killing just one person. Lawyers delayed the case so
that they would make money. Bebadla ngalo lelicala.We are hoping
that there would be a fair sentence.”
Victor Malambe -“David should explain why he
killed those women so that the relatives would have closure. We
want to know if he was sent by someone, what was pushing him
behind, these are some of the questions that have to be answered.”
Nozibele Bujela – “As a mother I am happy
about the judgment but I am hoping that the sentence would also
be satisfying. I believe that this shows that the case would be
finally put to rest. as a woman I am happy because David
targeted women. We are hoping that he would not be able to hurt
anyone as he is going behind bars.”
Winnie Nxumalo – “Mine is to say that justice
delayed is justice denied. The justice that has been done might
not serve the intended purpose, especially to the relatives. The
justice system in this country is slow and we hope this would
change soon. We hope the justice would speed up so that the
sentences would be relevant.”
Ndileka – “Glory be to God, we are very happy
about the verdict. This judgment would not have been possible
if it was not for the power of God. We hope that the sentence
would be passed soon and it would not be light.”
Themba Msibi – “The fact that there is
progress in the case is comforting. The case has dragged on for
a long time and we are hoping no other case would drag for this
long. We are just hoping that the sentence would be fair.”
Edgar Hillary – “I will only be able to
comment on the case once it has been finalised. I will reserve
my comments for now.”
‘Late Khethokwakhe was an outstanding
LATE police top Detective Senior
Superintendent Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla, who was killed in a
car accident during the course of the trial, was one of the best
witnesses to ever testify during David Simalane’s trial.
The judge said Ndlangamandla was the officer-in
charge of the investigation team while Sergeant Solomon Mavuso
was a member.
He observed that Ndlangamandla’s whole
demeanour, cool calm and collected, radiated a confidence in the
accuracy and veracity of his evidence like few others.
“He displayed a most remarkable capacity of
memory to logically, chronologically and systematically testify
as to the events he was called upon to present in court,” he
“He was unfazed by numerous interruptions.
He was also subjected to an enormously protracted barrage of
cross-examination, much of which was entirely irrelevant or
which could not advance the matter any further. He was
questioned in minute and often times repetitive details.”
He said Ndlangamandla never lost his patience
or displayed any detectable signs of annoyance, arrogance or
impatience, giving full and comprehensive responses to
everything he was asked.
“From time to time he asked of the court to
refresh his memory from notes which he made at the time of the
investigative process, which was repeatedly objected to by Mr.
Howe (then defence counsel Lucky Howe).”
‘Lucky Howe wrongly accused
FORMER defence counsel Lucky Howe wrongly
accused the late Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla and Sergeant Solomon
Mavuso at times of reading from their notes to accurately convey
He said both Ndlangamandla and Mavuso were
regularly castigated by counsel for their need to verify from
notes which they personally made during the course of the
investigation. “The duration of cross-examination of each of
these two police officers was tedious and protracted as it ever
could be, bordering on and often going beyond the point of
badgering and simply exhausting an exacerbated witness,” he
remarked. “Despite this, both police officers never fell for the
laborious trap which was being set up for them. Both continued
to courteous, long suffering and consistent. Both left a lasting
impression that the evidence which they gave can safely be
relied upon as full and accurate renditions of what they came to
testify about. “Most unfortunately, Mr. Ndlangamandla, who had
entered retirement from the police service by the time he
testified as witness, suffered serious health problems.
“He regularly had to undergo kidney dialysis
in hospital to avoid renal failure. Despite this, his sense of
duty prevailed and in cognisance of the importance of his
evidence and his sense of duty, he attended court as often as he
could and for as long as he could.
Annandale’s conclusion on each count
*COUNT I and 2 (deceased Thandi Dlamini and
Kwanda Khanya, respectively) “It might be very well have been
that one Sipho Dlamini took the late Thandi Dlamini and her
child, as well as others whom he accused equally stated to have
been taken by Dlamini, but yet again, it does not serve the
purpose of also inferring that Sipho Dlamini was somehow also
responsible for the deaths nor did the accused blame him for
that. This imputes no blame on Sipho Dlamini. The accused
confessed to a magistrate that there was one Thandi Dlamini, who
was with a child. She was from St. Philip’s and was his sister-in-law.
He had promised her work and that he killed her and the child by
strangling them at Bhunya Forest. The Crown has proved the guilt
of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in respect of counts one
*COUNT 3 Withdrawn by the prosecution prior
to plea due to duplication of identities of the deceased person
referred in count 1.
* COUNT 4 (deceased Vosho Dlamini) “Vosho
Dlamini was referred to by the accused as his girlfriend over a
year, with a very serious relationship between them, not just a
casual encounter. What is relevant and decisive is the
confession of the accused wherein he stated with regards then
that there was Vosho Dlamini, who was his girlfriend from St.
Philipp’s. He also went with her to Macetjeni where she
strangled her with his hands until she died.
*Count 5 (deceased Zanele Thwala) “The
deceased was another lover of the accused, who not only shared
her bed and rented flat with him but whose advanced pregnancy
allegedly was to render him the father. When taken in
conjunction the confession of the accused where he said that
‘Zanele Thwala of Mambane was my live-in lover: ‘We stayed at
Luyengo. We left for Luyengo to Malkerns. We were just walking
until we got to Bhunya forest where I strangled her with my
hands until she died.’ There remains no reasonable doubt that
the accused also murdered this victim.”
Count 6 (deceased Twana Dlamini) “The
deceased was the sister of Vosho and Thandi Dlamini. The accused
said Twana Dlamini was from St. Philipp’s, as all relevant
witness stated. In his confession he said ‘I promised her a job
and I told her to meet me at Manzini Bus Rank. She came and we
met. I then proceeded with her to Malkerns where I strangled her
with my hands to death.’ The combination of evidence in this
court with nothing gainsay it save for a bare blanket denial of
wrongdoing in any of the multitude of charges, culminates in a
finding that in count 6, the Crown has also established the
guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”
Count 7 (deceased Dumsile Tsabedze) “The
accused shared a flat with the accused at Malkerns. The
extraneous evidence on which the crown relies to prove that this
offence actually has been committed is on all four with the
contents of the confession wherein the accused said that: ‘Then
there was Dumsile Tsabedze from Ncangosini area with whom we
stayed together. She was my live-in lover. I left with her and
told her we were going to my parental home. We used to stay
together at Malkerns. When we got to Capha Mountain, I strangled
her to death with my hands.’ Within nothing to controvert this
part from a general distancing by the accused from any
wrongdoing anywhere, the end result inevitably is that the guilt
of the accused in count 7 has also been proved beyond a
reasonable of doubt.”
Count 8 and 9 (deceased Fikile Motsa and her
one year-old baby Lindokuhle Motsa) “The accused confessed to
the judicial officer in the following words: ‘Then there was
Fikile Motsa from Sidwala area. She was with her child who was
one year or just above one year old. I found her at Manzini bus
rank. She said she was looking for work. I promised her work and
we left Manzini to Malkerns. We got to Golden area where I
killed her and the child by strangling them.’ These chilling
words prove the answer as to how the mother and her baby ended
up dead instead of reaching their original destination.”
Count 10 (deceased Phakamile Vilakati) “He
confessed to the late Magistrate Masango that ‘There was another
from Kukhulumeni in Mankayane whose surname is Vilakati. I went
with her after I had promised her a job. I got with her a Capha
where I strangle her to death.’ Although the confession does not
include a first name, it is the only Vilakati he mentioned.
Count 11 and 12 (deceased Rose Nunn and her
13-month-old baby Nothando Khumalo) “The accused confessed that:
‘there was Num (sic) by surname whom I found at the same park
next to the City Council offices in Manzini. She had a child
with her of about 18 to 20 months. She was looking for a job and
I promised her on. We left for Malkerns and we got to Malkerns
forest I strangled her with her child.’ The spelling and sound
of Num and Nunn are so similar that it is of no consequence.”
Count 13 (deceased Sanele Tsabedze) “The
accused stated that: “There was another one who stayed at
Matsapha but was from Malindza. Her surname was Tsabedze. I
found her at the Manzini Bus Rank looking for a job. I promised
her one and we proceeded to Malkerns. I went with her to Bhunya
forest where I strangle and stabbed her to death.
Some of the highlights of David
1. Lawyer Lucky Howe is fired as pro deo
counsel for Simelane but the latter then engages him as a
2. Howe files in an
application for the judge’s recusal from the matter which he
loses. He appeals, but while waiting for the verdict of the
appeal, in January 2011, ‘Tsotsi’ Mabila is appointed as pro deo
for Simelane. Reasons advanced by the court are that he is
delaying the case by his continuous absence.
3. On his first day in the matter, Mabila
applies that eight witnesses be recalled and this is done.
4. David Simelane speaks for the first time
since his arrest and tells the court that he actually killed no
5. Simelane reveals that he was actually a go-between
and that his role was to connect the missing people with one
Sipho Dlamini of Logoba who was an employment agent
6. Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy
Dlamini weeps in court as she narrates the murder of one Zanele
Thwala who was pregnant when she met her death.
7. David has five surnames as it is revealed:
Simelane, Mhlanga, Yende, Gwebu and Thwala
8. Simelane, through his lawyer, tells the
court that he will answer only five of the 34 counts he was
9. He tells the court that people approached
him for employment and he in turn got them connected them to one
10. His trial is one of the longest, it began
in 2004 yet he was arrested in May 2001
11. One of the witnesses Superintendent
Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla took the whole year in the witness
12. Much against expectation, Simelane
addressed Judge Annandale in English one day. “I have no comment,”
he tells the court when told that one of the witnesses Nelsiwe
Mamba saw him with one Sibongile Dlamini, his in-law.
13. He changed tone one day as the DPP Mumcy
Dlamini, cornered him and said he had seen one of the victims
Thandi Dlamini. Earlier he had stated that he never saw her (deceased)
after he had handed her over to Sipho Dlamini
14. DPP, Mumcy Dlamini, complains of
illtreatment.This was during the many objections made by Mabila
during the trial.
15. David denies ever writing a letter which
purportedly told Thandi Dlamini’s family that she was busy at
work which was why she was not coming home.
16. He had more than one girlfriend, among
them Vosho, Zanele, Gugu to name a few
17. He was a football person according to his
own admission. In his testimony he said he met many people in
18. He does not know where Sipho Dlamini is
and does not know why police did not look for him (Sipho)
because he mentioned it to them that there was a third person (Sipho)
David Simelane lashes out at women
Dlamini -- Swazi Times
MBABANE – Suspect serial
killer David Simelane yesterday lashed out and sternly warned
over 60 women who taunted him in court to shut up
He also told them to allow the court to do
its work. Simelane, who had always appeared in control during
his court appearances, was being led out of the High Court by
warders after his case was yet again postponed.
The women had responded to a call by the
Campaign co-ordinator of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender
Abuse, Sinethemba Dlamini, during the Coordinating Assembly of
Non-governmental Organisations (CANGO) breakfast meeting on
Dlamini called on both men and women to
attend the trial in solidarity with Simelane’s alleged victims.
Simelane is accused of killing over 30 women including children
in different parts of the country in 2001. Yesterday, the women
had started by protesting and singing songs against the delay in
concluding the matter. This was before they moved into the
public gallery where they continued in song, calling for the
case to be concluded soon.
They had to be reprimanded by Judge Jacobus
Annandale who told them to keep quiet as they passed comments
and made provocative gestures at Simelane, who all along had sat
quietly in the accused box as if not hearing the taunts. The
women asked Simelane why he had killed all those women. Some
even complained that he was well taken care of in prison as he
had gained a lot of weight and looked healthy.
Simelane had ignored all the taunts until the
judge postponed the case and left the courtroom. As he was being
led out, Simelane turned and faced his accusers.
“You women up there, stop talking about
things you don’t know. Stop castigating me. You are clueless
about what you are talking about. The court knows the truth.
Stop saying things that will provoke me,” he said in vernacular
(Yeyi nine bomake. Aseniyekele lokungimosha. Nite liciniso
lekutsi loku lenitsi ngakwenta vele ngakwenta. Yinkantolo
kuphela leneliciniso ngalendzaba. Yekelani ke lokungimosha).
He had to be called to order by his attorney
Lucky Howe who told him not to address or respond to the taunts.
Simelane’s sudden outburst did not deter the women who
responded, saying he was lucky as he was being taken back to be
fed in prison. The case continues this morning at 9:30am.
...women sing, dance at the High Court
MBABANE- Over 100 people who had come to
observe the case of serial killer David Simelane arrived at the
High Court yesterday on a high note.
The people, mostly women, almost caused a
scene at the entrance of the court. They started singing songs
lamenting on the numerous postponements of the case.
Most of the people who were there had been
mobilised by Coordinating Assembly of Non Governmental
Organisations (CANGO) and the Council of Swaziland Churches.
They were clad in T-shirts from an organisation known as Open
Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) written ‘Justice
delayed is justice denied.’
As they were singing, officers from the Royal
Swaziland Police requested them to move outside the court as
they were disturbing proceedings. “You are not allowed to sing
inside the court. You are disturbing the work of the judges.
Just go and sing outside,” an officer said.
Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT)
Gender Officer, Ntombi Langwenya explained why they were
following the proceedings of the case: “As we commemorate 16
days of activism on Gender Based Violence, we are disappointed
that this case does not come to an end. We feel that justice
delayed is justice denied. So we appeal to the state to speed up
the case,” she said. The case is expected to continue today.
Khethokwakhe indisposed, case postponed
MBABANE - The trial of alleged serial killer
David Simelane was postponed yet again as key witness
Khethokwakhe Ndlangam-andla is indisposed.
This case had been previously postponed on a
number of occasions due to various reasons. Yesterday was
another of those days where the people left the court greatly
disappointed. When the trial was to begin at 9.30a.m., both the
Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini and the defence
counsel Lucky Howe had not arrived. High Court Judge Jacobus
Annandale, who is presiding over the matter had to wait for
their arrival, while he attended to other matters.
Lawyer Mduduzi Mathunjwa, from the DPP’s
office informed the court that the DPP had requested to see the
judge in his chambers.
When the matter was to resume at 11.15 a.m.,
Judge Annandale said it could not proceed as the main
investigating officer Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla is indisposed.
More incriminating evidence against serial killer
May 31, 2006
Simelane is already facing charges of first-degree murder for
killing 34 women in different parts of the country between 1994
Busisiwe Dlamini, a relative of three deceased women yesterday
testified that the accused had confessed to the family that he
murdered them. Simelane pleaded not guilty to all charges. The
case has been adjourned till Monday.
“Initially we thought Simelane was joking until he identified
the items of clothing the deceased were wearing the day he
killed them” said Dlamini.
The alleged serial killer also murdered one of the three
sisters’ son Kwandza Khanya who was 8 months old at the time.
Dlamini said she she had personally seen Simelane leaving with
one of the sisters whom she identified as Simelane's girlfriend
on April 13, 2001. She explained that they bordered a public
transport at St. Phillips situated in the Southern east of
Swaziland apparently because Simelane wanted to take her to
Matsapha after promising to offer her a job.
Dlamini said they had expected the three sisters to return home
during the Easter holidays but they did not show up until the
family received a phone call from the Malkerns Police Station
summoning them to identify clothes of missing persons.
Swaziland Serial Killer ordered for psychiatric
September 9, 2004
The Mbabane High Court has ordered that alleged Swaziland serial
killer David Simelane be sent for psychiatric observation, SABC
radio news reported on Monday.
Simelane appeared in court, where 35 charges of murder were read
He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Simelane has been sent for observation to determine whether he
is fit to stand trial...He is expected back in court on Friday.
The state alleges that Simelane is responsible for Swaziland's
worst spate of killings.
The murders of female job seekers took place between 1999 and
2001. – Sapa
Swazi serial killer to reveal more evil
June 28, 2001
What is evil? Can you touch it, sense it, or feel it? For the
people of Swaziland, evil has a name: David Simelane.
The 43-year-old convicted rapist could turn out to be southern
Africa's worst serial killer.
So far, police believe, he has killed 45 people - but there
could be more.
Simelane, who has pointed out a number of sites where police
found human bones and skeletons, has indicated that he will take
police to other sites this week.
On Thursday, The Star went to his main killing field. Deep in
the heart of the Sappi-Usuthu Forest in the Malkerns area, you
can sense evil. It was here that Swazi police made the grisly
discovery of 28 decomposed bodies in March this year.
So far, the mutilated and naked bodies of 41 women and four
children - a baby aged nine months and toddlers aged two, three
and four - have been found at different sites across the
Some were buried, others just thrown into bushes or among rocks.
Some of the victims had their breasts and vaginas cut out,
others were beheaded, some strangled, others raped. Their names
glare out at you from white sheets of paper at Matsapha police
The disjointed, terse phrases tell a stark story: Adult/Child,
Found: Rocks/Mountains, Pine Tree Forest, Buried/Not Buried,
Naked and Decomposed. Victim 1, Victim 2, Victim 3...
The notes cover the walls where detectives are busy around the
clock with their investigation.
Victims' clothing takes up tables and the floor in the office: a
baby's blue jersey; a baby top, the arm area ripped off; a navy
leather purse; muddied and broken shoes; a pile of
unidentifiable clothing, old and worn by exposure to the
elements; a pyjama jacket emblazoned with two teddy bears
hugging and the words "I'm yours forever".
A pair of muddied and torn denim jeans bear testimony to the
struggle one victim put up before her death.
The clothes will, police hope, help families identify a number
of victims who still remain nameless.
The forest murders have left Swaziland in a state of shock and
The Sappi-Usuthu Forest, once a spot where lovers would
rendezvous, is now eerily empty. Now even brave men won't tread
there. Thick grey mist and deep mud make it even more ominous.
In the quiet of day, walking in the forest, fear creeps up.
Being dragged there by a serial killer, among the thorns,
nettles and jutting out branches in the middle of the night must
have been beyond terrifying.
It is believed that Simelane started the killings shortly after
being released in 1998 from Matsapha Maximum Prison, where he
served 15 years of a 20-year-rape sentence.
Shortly after his release, the woman who testified at his trial
that she had been raped by Simelane was found dead.
Simelane was immediately suspected and he went on the run using
the alias David Ali Mhlanga.
He allegedly confessed to police that after this first murder he
started his spree of killings.
The next occurred in October 1999. It is believed that Simelane
was bitter and vengeful toward women after his time in jail and
is thought to have picked up most of his victims at pubs.
One woman who escaped death was the girlfriend with whom he was
living at the time of his arrest in April this year. They lived
in a flat in Luyengo, close to Malkerns, where a number of the
murders took place.
When she heard that he had confessed to being the serial killer,
she packed her things and fled.
By then police had already found 28 bodies.
Serial killer shatters myth of safety
Swaziland's first known serial killer, David Simelane - charged
recently with the slayings of 34 people and suspected to be
responsible for the deaths of others - has done more than
prematurely end the lives of dozens of women and children. He
has exposed to Swazis the myth of their national belief, that
Swaziland is a country where members of extended families living
within multi-generational homesteads look out for their own,
where crime is low because everyone knows everyone else.
“We have been living with an illusion that the traditional ways
that safeguarded our ancestors still protect us in a rapidly
changing society,” says Dr. Thandi Malepe, director of the
Swaziland Psychiatric Institute. “The serial killings have
proven that false.”
Charged under his surname Simelane, though he is more widely
known by the pseudonym David Mhlanga, the killer preyed on women
traveling through both rural and urban areas. His victims were
either alone or with small children, and police sources
speculate they were often hitchhiking. Evidence at the crime
scenes showed that the women were raped and decapitated. The
children were suffocated, and some were found with plastic bags
over their heads.
“This had been going on for probably two years,” said Magagula.
“Most of the bodies were severely decomposed, others were mere
skeletons. They were buried under thin coatings of dirt and pine
needles.” Most of the bodies were discovered within the SAPPI/Usuthu
Company's commercial forests in the rural community of Malkerns,
about 30 km from the capital Mbabane.
These gruesome finds were at first assumed to be the work of
another suspect, Bongani Vilakati. In July 2000, the bodies of
six people were unearthed at Vilakati's farm in Malkerns. He was
implicated by two Mozambicans who were hired by Vilakati to dig
the graves, and were arrested by police for their role in
assisting the killer. For eight months, Vilakati was in hiding,
until he was spotted by police, chased through a maize field,
and fatally shot.
The Swazi media criticised the police for shooting the unarmed
suspect, who if he had lived might have shed some light on
reports of missing persons in the Malkerns area.
But what bothers observers of Swazi life more is that so few of
the victims were reported missing by their families. The bodies
of one woman and her child who did receive attention turned up
along the Malkerns roadside after her distraught husband placed
newspaper ads asking for information.
“We have to be careful about blaming the police for not doing
more to stop the serial killings while they were in progress,
because there were few missing persons reports,” says a source
with the Royal Swaziland Police Force.
“The crimes have highlighted the danger of assuming your
relatives who are in transit are alright,” says Dr. Malepe.
Phefeni Vilakati (unrelated to the mass murder suspect Vilakati)
is a social worker in rural Luve. He describes the poverty that
leads women to put themselves in peril by wandering about the
country. “The traditional homestead can no longer support all
its residents, particularly now when AIDS is hitting so hard and
taking away many breadwinners. Women go off, sometimes with
their children, with only enough bus fare to get to a place like
Malkerns, where they hope to find work. They have no money to
Malkerns is a centre of pineapple and sugar cane cultivation.
Seasonal workers are employed at planting and harvesting time.
Swazi custom prescribes that a newcomer to an area has to report
to a chief, and a resident who gives shelter to a stranger has
to do the same. This once had the salubrious effect of reducing
crime. But in a modern peripatetic society, where men and women
are in constant motion, the old formalities have largely
disappeared from all but distant rural lands.
“Fifty years ago, Swazis lived their entire lives at their
homesteads, and rarely ventured outside their chieftaincies,”
says historian Richard Motsa. “The only ones who ever left the
country went to South Africa to work in the mines under
contract. They were illiterate, and did not write home. But
their families knew they would eventually return.”
Motsa feels that the miners began the Swazi assumption that a
family member may go off for long periods of time to seek work
and not communicate, but all is well.
The communication infrastructure is still inadequate for the
poor in Swaziland. Public telephones are few, and those that do
exist are generally located within post offices, which close at
four in the afternoon, or at shops that close in the evenings.
Electricity, not to mention private phones, is a luxury in rural
homesteads. None of Swaziland's 300 chiefs are connected to the
worldwide web to send or receive e-mail. As for regular mail,
illiteracy and slowness of delivery tend to discourage its use
among the poor.
“So, off these woman go walking into the night, because the
buses stop running at sundown,” says Khosi Mtetfwa, director of
the women's counseling service Swaziland Action Group Against
Abuse (SWAGAA). She criticises the government for failing to
provide a public transportation system, leaving riders at the
mercy of private transport operations whose concern is profit.
In addition to counseling women and children who fall victim to
rape and abuse, SWAGAA assembles statistics about these crimes.
“All our figures will be skewed this year because of the serial
killings,” says Mtetfwa. “If there is anything positive to come
out of the serial killings, it is an awareness of the
vulnerability of women to such crimes, and the need for better
communication and transportation, a need to be vigilant.”
Non-government organisations and religious groups joined SWAGAA
for a prayer vigil at the forest location where most of the
bodies were discovered. At the time, police had posted a
substantial reward for information leading to the apprehension
of the killers. Police authorities suspected Vilakati was not
the only one involved, if indeed the dead suspect was involved
wary fiancé broke the case. He had been tailing Simelane for
several days after hearing that the woman he was to wed was last
seen in his company. Why the unnamed woman was with Simelane may
remain a mystery, because her body was discovered along with her
eight-month-old child amongst the corpses uncovered in the
forest. Besides Simelane's confession to having committed the
murders, the circumstantial evidence of the woman seen with
Simelane is the strongest link between him and the killings.
The fiancé alerted police to Simelane's whereabouts, and the
suspect was picked up while shopping at a supermarket in the
southern Swaziland town Nhlangano. The arrest and the subsequent
confession of Simelane seem a bit tidy for Swazis, who are
traumatised by the killings.
Dr. Malepe says, “Many people are asking how one man could carry
out such killings, and why he would do so?”
One motive given by the suspect's foster father was that
Simelane was bitter about a rape conviction that imprisoned him
for 20 years. His release in 1999 corresponded with the first of
the serial killings. “David felt he was wrongly convicted,” his
father told the local press.
“Nonsense,” countered Manzini businesswoman Lindiwe Matsebula.
“The way to protest your innocence is to prove you did not
commit the crime in the first place, and not repeat the same
crime 30 times and then kill the women you rape.”
Such an acerbic assessment indicates the emotions that have been
stirred up by the serial killings. Swaziland has lost some of
its innocence with these crimes. An expanding population,
economic imperatives that drive people from their family
homesteads, and a breakdown in the monitoring of strangers in
chieftaincies allow psychopaths to carry out dastardly crimes
new to the traditional kingdom.
“We no longer live in the womb of traditional life that used to
protects us,” says Reverend Jabulani Dlamini of Manzini. “We
must be more proactive to protect the most vulnerable amongst
us, our women and children, from African predators. These
predators are no longer lions and leopards. They wear human
in court for deaths of 34 people
April 30. 2001
Mbabane - A 45-year-old
former convict was charged with 34 murders on Monday after the
discovery of the bodies of women and children in shallow graves
in a forest.
The man, David Thabo
Simelane, a Swazi national, was not asked to plead in the
Manzini magistrate's court. He was remanded in custody until a
new hearing on a date to be announced.
The murders took place
between October 1999 and last month, the court was told. Police
had earlier identified the man as David Mhlanga.
Four babies were among the
dead. Some of the women's bodies were found lying face-down with
their hands tied behind their backs, and about half the bodies
had been decapitated, police said.
Some of the victims
appeared to have been sexually abused before being killed, and
most of the bodies were naked.
cops arrest man in serial killer case
April 26, 2001
Nhlangano - Swazi police
have arrested a 40-year-old man in connection with the killing
of at least 28 people whose remains were discovered in a forest.
The arrest took place at
Nhlangano where police were alerted by a man whose wife went
missing shortly after she was seen with the suspect.
The man's identity has not
been disclosed. He is said to be a former convict who once
served time for housebreaking and rape.
It is believed he had
previously used the forest, where the bodies were found, to hide
in while wanted on other charges.
He had a house in Luyengo,
a few kilometres from Malkerns where the 28 bodies, mostly of
women and children, were discovered.
The suspect is being held
at the Matsapha police station, where he is being questioned
about the murders.
The grisly discovery of
bodies began three weeks ago when the first was found by a boy
who was herding cattle in the forest.
A search by the country's
security forces was carried out, leading to the discovery of the
28 bodies. A 29th body was found floating in the Great Usuthu