One of the two suspects arrested in connection with the murder of five women in Mthwalume, on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, has committed suicide.
The two men, aged 35 and 40, were arrested last week Friday following the recent discovery of the fifth body of an unidentified woman in a sugar cane field.
The suspects, who were due to appear in court today, were found in possession of cell phones and SIM cards of the deceased women.
The remaining suspect, however, did not appear due to insufficient evidence.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, who addressed media outside the court where the suspects were scheduled to appear, said the death of the main suspect has posed a challenge, as prosecutors do not have a strong case against the second suspect.
However, Cele said the suspect remains the subject of the investigation. The Minister said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has taken over the investigation into the murders.
Cele, KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza and Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Bheki Ntuli, visited the Mthwalume area on Saturday, where they engaged with a group of women.
Cele also met with police officers on Monday morning to reinforce the work of the police and get an update on the investigation.
The Minister said before his death, the main suspect, told the police that more bodies are buried in the sugar cane fields.
Cele said the investigation into the murder of the women will continue until authorities are satisfied that they have exhausted every avenue.
“We’ve told the police that there are more bodies buried in the area [and] we have strengthened the team investigating the case. We’ve put more investigators, more skilled people, forensics and psychologists, to make sure that we leave no stone unturned,” Cele said.
Implementation of programmes against GBVF continues
Meanwhile, Khoza said the Department of Social Development would continue to implement programmes against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) across the province.
“Gender-based violence remains a huge challenge in our communities. Our department will continue to offer psycho-social support to all those affected. We call on all members of society to play a role in ensuring that this scourge is dealt with.
“For us to win this war, we require a concerted effort by all people. We need to speak out, speak up and act against gender-based violence in all its forms,” Khoza said. – SAnews.gov.za