The discovery of three women’s bodies in sugar cane fields, in the Hibberdene policing area over the past three months, have sparked fears of a serial killer at work.
The bodies of two sisters who went missing together and a third woman, aged between 16 and 25, were found by hunters in a sugar cane field on the South Coast. The corpses of the sisters were found on April 25, and the body of the third woman was discovered last week. All had been reported missing by their families and lived within 6km of each other.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said at this stage they cannot say it was the work of a serial killer. However, the cases were allocated to a single detective “who will be looking into the possibility of the same killer being involved”.
Naicker said the investigative psychology section would also be roped in to assist in the investigation.
He said the incidents were reported in the Mtwalume area, which falls under the Hibberdene policing precinct.
Naicker said the body of a 23-year-old woman was found by hunters in a sugar cane field, in the Nomakhanzana area last Monday. Her aunt had reported her missing on June 28.
“A post-mortem was conducted and confirmed that she died as a result of a stab wound to the chest. A murder case was opened at Hibberdene police station,” said Naicker.
In the first incident, two sisters – aged 16 and 25 – were reported missing from the Mnamfu area on March 28. Nearly a month later, on April 25, hunters found the two bodies in sugar cane fields.
“The bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition and they were identified by the family through the clothing found next to the bodies. DNA specimens were obtained from both the deceased and forwarded to our laboratory for analysis,” said Naicker.
University of South Africa criminology Professor Doraval Govender said the weapon used was vital to prove serial killings. There had to be a similar type of weapon used, and many other similarities and facts.
“From a criminological perspective, one can say it may be gender-based violence (GBV) because the two sisters were involved in one incident and the third was somebody else,” said Govender.
He said the police report and post-mortem results were also important in determining the cause of death, especially of the sisters.
“Right now, there’s too little information. If they were all stabbed, then we could probably draw some conclusion. One cannot draw conclusions and start labelling the situation, and saying what could have happened (without more information),” said Govender.
Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) spokesperson Javu Baloyi said he had heard about the recent incidents and the commission had “noted with sadness the killing of women in KZN, particularly when it raises suspicion that this could be the work of a serial killer”.
“What worries us the most is that since the first killings, nothing seems to have happened in terms of the arrest of a perpetrator/s of this heinous crime.”
Baloyi said they could not allow a situation where women were not safe, regardless of where they happened to be.
“We need to be vigilant as society, to ensure that women are protected – including girls,” Baloyi added.