Moses Sithole
Source: youtube | Just True Crime

How Serial Killer Moses Sithole Terrorized South Africa For 2 Years

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May 30 2022, Published 9:56 a.m. ET

Two years doesn’t seem long, but to the victims of Moses Sithole, it was a lifetime of terror, anguish, and an unprecedented murder spree in South Africa. The lanky mysterious character emerged from the bowels of Volsloorus, a disadvantaged community of Boksburg town at the height of the apartheid. Sithole was accredited with 38 murders and 40 rapes before South African authorities captured him. During Sithole’s reign of terror, he was also known as the ABC Killer, the Gauteng Strangler, and the South African Strangler.

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Cracked Foundation

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Source: youtube | Just True Crime

Born to the family of Simon and Sophie Sithole with four other siblings, Sithole was predisposed to abuse at the orphanage where he was placed after the death of his parents. Soon, the sexually promiscuous teenager ran away to work in the Johannesburg gold mines. He was later reported to have had aggressive behaviors towards women, which stemmed from issues of his abandonment by his mother, according to Crime Investigation.

Starting in 1995, Sithole commenced his killings from the town of Atteridgeville, close to Pretoria. Then, he shifted his murder campaign to Boksburg and the town of Cleveland. Soon, a nationwide panic engulfed the country, drawing the attention of then-President Nelson Mandela, who appealed to the public for help to capture the perpetrator. Sithole’s victims were black women between 19 to 45 years old.

Modus Operandi

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At the time, the 30-year-old Sithole was charismatic and charming with a mild-mannered personality. In addition, he reportedly worked for an organization named Youth Against Human Abuse. Ironically, the organization’s mandate was to eradicate child abuse. As a result, Sithole was able to persuade his victims through the promise of a job offer with his charity.

Upon gaining their trust and with the unsuspecting women’s guard down, Sithole unleashed his fury on them. He would walk his victims through a field under the guise of heading to the fictitious charity’s headquarters until they were out of range of the public. Most of the victims were strangled to death with their underwear after he had beaten and raped them, according to Cape Town etc.

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The Fugitive

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In August 1995, South Africa Police got a tip about a sighting of Sithole with one of his victims. As a result, authorities discovered Sithole’s fictitious charity and previous rape convictions. Now, on the police radar, the prolific serial killer went into hiding. However, while on the run, Sithole contacted journalist Tamsen de Beer and admitted being responsible for all the murders. To gain credibility with the journalist, Sithole gave De Beer the location of one of his victim's bodies.

The Tip

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Later, authorities received a call from Sithole’s elder brother. He told them his fugitive brother had contacted him for help, and they were to meet at a specified location. Upon arrival at the location, Sithole figured he was walking into a trap before he tried fleeing the scene. Then, he charged at the police with an ax when he was shot twice and wounded. Sithole was then arrested and placed in police custody. He was transported to the hospital, where authorities discovered the suspect had contracted HIV and tuberculosis.

Judgment Day

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Since the death penalty was abolished in South Africa for capital murder cases, on Dec. 5, 1997, Justice David Carstairs sentenced Sithole to consecutive 50 years for each count of the 38 murders, totaling 2,410 years in prison. The defendant was ordered to serve his sentence at the C-Max section of the Pretoria Central Prison. He would only be eligible for parole at the age of 963 years.

Ironically, Sithole’s wife and child died of HIV because they had no health coverage. Only 65-year-old citizens can automatically qualify in South Africa. However, the defendant received treatment for the disease through the health coverage provided for prisoners.

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