The Provincial Commissioner of Police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, has welcomed four life sentences meted against 41-year-old Bheki Themba Simelane for murders which he committed in seperate incidents at various places. The sentence was handed down on Friday 17 January 2020, by Judge Henk Roelofse at the High Court sitting in Graskop.
The Court heard how Simelane, who regards himself as a traditional healer, went on a killing spree between 2013 and 2016. His (Simelane) main targets were car owners. On 16 November 2013, Mr Henry Twala, the owner of a Red VW Polo from Pienaar was reported missing. Two days later, 18 November 2013, his lifeless body was found dumped in a river at Masoyi. A case of murder and robbery was opened, and in addition, a theft of motor vehicle case was also opened after his family reported that his car had also gone missing. Police commenced with the investigations and on 30 November 2013, Simelane was arrested for being in possession of Twala's VW Polo. Simelane escaped prosecution after the Public Prosecutor directed the police to pursued the matter further as the evidence against him by then, was not enough to secure a convict and he (Simelane) was released.
Simelane's next target was Mr Samuel Mandla Sithole, the owner of a Silver Grey VW Polo and, on 20 February 2014, his lifeless body was discovered inside a pit-toilet not far from Simelane's place of residence. A case of murder was opened as well and on 26 March 2014, Simelane was arrested at a car wash in Matsulu for possession of Sithole's car. Again the evidence was not strong enough to convict him (Simelane) of Sithole's murder and as a result, he was released.
Simelane went on with his 'modus operandi', without hesitation, to terrorise his victims and on 28 December 2014, police found a body of Mr Tullen Mhlongo, 50 years of age, in a dumping site at Kabokweni. Mhlongo was the owner of a Red Opel Corsa and an Inquest docket, following his death was investigated by police.
On 02 January 2015, the Mhlongo family further opened a theft of motor vehicle case as they (family) did not know the whereabouts of Mhlongo's car. On 12 January 2015, Simelane was once again arrested for being in possession of Mhlongo's Opel Corsa but was released on bail.
He moved on to his next victim unbeknown that this would be his last time to strike. On 16 February 2016, the body of Ms Enika Ndlovu, aged 56, was found at a house in Masoyi. During this gruesome discovery of her body, police also found a child in the house who was still alive but the investigations revealed that there were attempts by the suspect to harm or even kill the minor. Ndlovu's death came at a time when she has just bought herself a brand new Blue Ford Eco Sport two weeks earlier. Her car as well as a TV set and two cell phones were stolen. A case of murder and robbery was opened.
The Detectives worked around the clock and connected all the dots to crack the case. The Blue Ford Eco Sport was traced and recovered at a house in Dwarsloop near Bushbuckridge. Information was followed by the police which led to the arrest of Simelane on 22 May 2016. Simelane was then positively linked to all the four robberies and the murder cases of Ndlovu, Mhlongo, Sithole, as well as Twala, and he (Simelane) was finally found guilty on nine charges. He was convicted of the four murders, one attempted murder, and four robberies. On Friday 17 January 2020, Judge Roelofse did not hesitate when handing down judgement but indicated that Simelane was not fit to ever live with other people in the society.
Simelane was given Four (04) life sentences for murder, ten years for attempted murder fifteen years Imprisonment for each of the four robberies.
"I would like to commend the sterling work done by the Detectives in solving these cases. Police have indeed displayed a high level of professionalism and working in partnership with the community as well as the Criminal Justice Cluster, we managed to remove Simelane from the society for good. Simelane has robbed families of their loved ones because of his greed and selfishness. People like Simelane should not be allowed to roam around the streets of our society freely whilst preying on defenceless victims. I urge the public to notify police of such criminals, so that we send them where they belong," said General Zuma.