Human society has always had psychopaths, and Africa has been no exception to the seeming rise of serial murders. Some remain unsolved, their perpetrators walking among an unsuspecting population.
The most terrifying thing is that two of the members of this list used the guise of job interviews to trick their would-be victims, with one being a polished, charming psychopath right before he attacked the unsuspecting job seeker and embarking on a depraved, ritualistic murder. As with all things African, at least one involves too much murky politics to figure out who the actual psychopath was.
#7 Elias Xitavhudzi-“The Pangaman” “The Machete Killer”
Atteridgeville in South Africa seems to produce more serial killers than one place ever should. The second known one was Elias Xitavhudzi, known in the media as The Pangaman. As his nickname suggests, Xitavhudzi used a machete to torture, kill, and mutilate his victims. All 16 men and women he is known to have killed were white. The story of his capture and execution is not well known.
This infamous serial killer was hanged on 14th November 1960.
Morocco’s claim to this list was a cobbler and public letter writer called Hadj Mohammed Mesfewi. Aided by a 70-year-old female accomplice named Rahali, Mesfewi drugged and killed at least 36 women. He robbed his victims after he killed them and then buried their bodies. 26 bodies were found buried under his shop while the other ten were under a different property he owned.
The intriguing story of his execution begins with a sentence for crucifixion on May 2nd, 1906. The method of punishment was considered too brutal by foreign diplomats in Morocco and the government caved in, instead sentencing him to immurement which doesn’t sound like a better option.
So he was buried alive on June 11, 1906 and died two days later.
#5 David Thabo Simelane, Swaziland’s first known serial killer
David Simelane is a Swazi serial killer who caused havoc from the late 1990s until late 2001. His murder spree began in 1997, around the time he was released from prison for a prior conviction of rape. It was one of the many times, about 18, since 1976 that he had been convicted of robbery and rape. The last conviction was significant because he would later claim that he had robbed the woman but he had never raped her. For him, the 28 women and children he would later kill were revenge for the wrongful conviction.
Simelane lured most of his victims to the woods of Malkerns with job prospects where he would then kill and bury them in shallow graves. He seemed to have had an accomplice called Vilakati on whose farm the first six bodies were uncovered in July 2000. Two Mozambicans he hired to dig the graves tipped off the police who then launched a manhunt for Vilakati. They found him eight months later and chased him through a maize field before they shot him dead.
After his arrest, Simelane led the police to shallow graves in Manzini where 45 bodies were found, including several pregnant women. Many of them had been strangled but some had been stabbed with a knife. Simelane was found guilty of a total of 28 murders and acquitted of six.
He was sentenced to death in 2011; seven years after his trial began. A total of 83 witnesses testified against him. He claimed that he had been tortured and coerced to confess to the murders.
#4 The B1 Butcher
On June 13th 2007, a 36-year old woman disappeared somewhere on Independence Avenue in Windhoek, Namibia. Three and a half days later, a mutilated female torso was found in a garbage bin next to Namibias B1 Road. It had been professionally severed from the rest of the body and was itself dissected into two. For investigators, the torso was more than just a part of a corpse, it was proof that a dreaded, unknown killer was back on the hunt.
Nicknamed The B1 Butcher because the way he methodically dissects his victims and where he disposes of their body parts, this killer is possibly still at large. His favourite dumping points are rubbish bins near major roads, not only the National B1 road. The B1 Butcher has been killing since at least 2005 when the first body was found near a power station. Of his five known victims, two were never identified. The other three were Juanita Mabula (21 years, murdered in 2005), Melanie Janse (22 years, 2005), and Sanna Helena IllGaroes (36 years, 2007). All of them were young colored Namibian women.
Their body parts, at least those that were ever found, showed signs of freezing or refrigeration, suggesting that he was preserving them for a while before dumping them. His method of killing seemed to have evolved or have been inconsequential for his motives. Mabula was hit on the head with a blunt object while Janse was strangled. An extensive police manhunt that drew in international assistance yielded two suspects: German citizen Heinz Knierim and Han Husselmann.
Knierim was acquitted in 2010 for lack of evidence. Husselmann, on the other hand, became a prime suspect after he committed suicide in 2008. //Garoes DNA was found in his flat while his DNA was found on a letter to the police that detailed the Mabula murder. Despite this, the trail went cold and the killing house has never been found. The B1 Butcher either survives or died in the intervening period. The latest activity suspected to be his handiwork was in 2010 when a human head and an arm were found in Rehoboth. It could be his work or that of a copycat.
#3 Raya and Sakina
In December of 1920, the rotting dismembered remains of a woman were found lying on a street. What seemed like a one-off crime became a serial one when a man digging to find a damaged water pipe discovered a number of female remains in what looked like a burial room. Later investigations showed that Raya and Sakina had been renting the house at the time of the murders, and the heat turned on them. These two ruthless, murderous sisters hold the infamy of being the first women to be executed in modern-day Egypt.
They were the leaders of a killing party of 5 which include a husband, a boyfriend, and an accomplice. The two enterprising sisters founded an extensive drug and prostitution ring that revolved around five homes in the Labban district of Alexandria. It is from here that they perfected a murderous killing team of 5 that killed at least 17 women.
Sakina told the courtroom during the trial that lasted from May 10th to May 12th 1921 that she would lure the victims into the house and the drug them.
Working as a ruthlessly efficient team, they would then strangle the victim as she slipped into unconsciousness …one of the killers would clamp his hands over the victims mouth, another would grab hold of her throat, a third would hold her hands behind her back and the fourth would pin down her feet until she stopped breathing. Abdel-Aal was in charge of holding the feet. Abdel-Aal was Sakina’s boyfriend. The post-mortems showed that all the victims died of suffocation and not strangulation.
In her chilling confession, Sakina kept saying the infamous line “Death passed that way“ after describing each death.
#2 Charles Quansah “The Kumasi Strangler”
In February of 2000, a 36-year-old man called Charles Quansah was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Joyce Boateng. An additional murder charge was added a few days later, that of a hairdresser called Akua Serwaa. Serwaa’s body had been found near Kumasi Sports Stadium on January 19th, 1996.
The names on Quansah’s charge sheet kept increasing, and he was finally accused of killing 34 women. All the victims had been found lying in supine positions with their legs widely opened. There was clear evidence of rape, including a discarded condom near the victims body. It perhaps fit too well that the Ghanaian mechanic had a history.
In 1986, Quansah had been jailed for rape. After his release, he raped another woman and was jailed again.
Prior to his arrest in 2000, he had been serving a jail sentence for robbery. The story of the Kumasi Rapist seemed to have finally ended with the apprehension of a man who had history and motives to kill. But that was not the end. There were 21 murders of young women in and around Accra in 1999. Four more were killed in the first half of 2000, with two of them being found within one week of each other and outside Mataheko, the primary dumping site of the most of the first murders.
Quansah’s arrest followed this outcry and in public, the police said that he confessed to nine other murders but they only charged him with one initially, and then added ten more. The most damning evidence that Quansah was most likely not the killer was that the killings continued after his arrest. By December 2000, the murders had reached a total of 31. Being an election year, the serial murders became a primary political issue, leading to the voting out of the Interior Minister and his deputy.
The presidential candidate John Kufuor made it a primary issue when he made finding the killer a plank in his 2000 election campaign. Three years after the fact, the former president Jerry Rawling’s sensationally claimed that more than ten ministers in John Kufuor’s cabinet had been involved in the murders which now totaled 34. He never specified or clarified his claim. For Quansah, only three of the charges seemed to have anything to do with him. The real serial killers might never be known.
#1 Moses Sithole “The South African Strangler” “The Gauteng Killer”
Known as the Ted Bundy of South Africa, Moses Sithole was arguably the most dangerous and yet charming of African serial killer. He was intelligent, polished, and psychopathic. To lure victims, he established a dummy organisation called Youth Against Human Abuse, purportedly dedicated to eradicating child abuse. He would then invite applications from women for various positions. Answering the call was the first mistake because the mild-mannered, smartly dressed executive was not what he seemed.
After the interview, Sithole would lead his victims through an open field where he would then attack them, drag them away from sight, rape them, and strangle them with their own underwear. He then carved the word ‘BITCH’ on their corpses. Sometimes, he would call the victims families to taunt them. Sithole first did this in Atteridgeville, then Boksburg and finally Cleveland in Johannesburg. When the pattern was finally uncovered, the murders became widely known as the ABC murders. They attracted national attention, forcing even President Mandela to personally appeal for public assistance.
Sithole’s spree ended when a witness confessed to having seen Sithole with one of the victims. Background checks revealed that he had been arrested for rape in his teens and had served seven years. When he realized he had been made, Sithole disappeared. He reappeared in October 1995 when he made a call to journalist Tamsen de Beer. In characteristic psychopathic pride, he claimed 76 victims and gave directions for a body that had not been found.
The manhunt began in earnest and ended on a Johannesburg street with Sithole writhing on the ground, immobilized by three bullets, including one in his buttocks. During his trial, Sithole claimed that he had killed women because they reminded him of the women who had falsely accused him of rape. He was found guilty of 40 rapes and 38 murders. He had killed 37 young women and one child. The court sentenced him to a total of 2, 410 years in jail, with a possibility of parole after 930 years. He
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Last modified: October 18, 2022