South Africa: Homeless Killings - Magnolia Park Avoided As Fear Continues to Grip Tshwane

The homeless community in Tshwane is still avoiding the Magnolia Park area after five homeless men were murdered in the vicinity in June.

And some even carry weapons for protection.

Several people told News24 they used to like sleeping in the area because it was open, close to the CBD, near affluent suburbs and within easy reach of the recycling depot in Sunnyside.

"I don't feel safe. I don't know who's going to be next," a homeless man, who only identified himself as Julian, told News24.

"Some of us have actually taken up arms, like with knives and a baton or some piece of wood, just to protect [ourselves]."

More than a month has passed since the fifth body was found, however, police have still not made any arrests.

They have not said that the murders were the work of a serial killer, but have dubbed the perpetrator the "nocturnal prowler".

Wayne Renkin, project co-ordinator at the Tshwane Leadership Foundation, told News24 life on the streets as hard enough for Tshwane's estimated 10 000 homeless people, without the added fear of being murdered.

"It is deeply disturbing that there is someone in our society that goes out and murders middle-aged, homeless people while they are sleeping," Renkin said.

"There's a worry - will I be the next target?"

He estimated that between 20 and 30 homeless people had been sleeping in the Magnolia Dell Park and Muckleneuk areas before the spate of killings started.

"Since the murders occurred, I've been there a few times late at night and there is no one."

He said it seemed homeless communities in the CBD were not as scared because there was more activity there and people there were less isolated than those in suburban areas.

"When you are living in the streets, it's like your life is at risk. Anything can happen. So it's like all of us we live through the faith of God. We all just pray when it's night time. When it's morning, you say: 'Thanks God,'" Elliot Bakasa, 58, who has been living on the streets for more than two years, told News24.

Molefe Modikoe has been living on the streets for the past nine months. His family has rejected him and said he had no one to blame but himself.

Modikoe said although he "cannot guarantee" his safety, he has resorted to sleeping in a group, like other homeless people. But this has brought about another risk.

"Sleeping together as a group, still, it's a risk - health hazard and all that. Some are coughing [with] TB... we share blankets."

Identities not confirmed

Meanwhile, two of the five homeless victims, have not yet been identified.

Police are also still trying to locate the next of kin for the three who have been identified.

"The investigation to establish the identity of the other two victims is still under way. At this stage, we are not at liberty to disclose or confirm the identities of the victims, pending finalisation of the entire investigation," police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said.

News24

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