David Thabo Simelane (1 Viewer)


David Thabo Simelane

A.K.A.: "David Albert Mhlanga"

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Serial rapist - Out of revenge after being previously convicted for raping a woman which he did not commit
Number of victims: 28 +
Date of murders: 2000 - 2001
Date of arrest: April 25, 2001
Date of birth: 1956
Victims profile: Women and children
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Malkerns, Manzini, Swaziland
Status: Sentenced to death on April 1, 2011

Swaziland serial killer David Simelane faces hanging

April 2, 2011

A serial killer responsible for at least 28 deaths in the southern African state of Swaziland has been sentenced to death by hanging.

A judge handed down the sentence nine days after David Simelane was convicted.

His lawyer said he would appeal against both the verdict and the sentence.

The killings are thought to have begun in the late 1990s and lasted until 2001 when police arrested Simelane after a tip-off.

He led the police to shallow graves where 45 bodies were found altogether, including several pregnant women.

The serial killer was charged with 34 murders and convicted of 28.

No executions have been carried out in Swaziland since 1983

David to hang

April 2, 2011

After being found guilty of killing 28 women, David Simelane was on Friday sentenced to death by Judge Jacobus Annandale. Simelane was arrested in 2001 after a number of women were reportedly missing. Most of these left their homes under the guise they had been found employment by Simelane.

Before delivering the sentence the judge stated that it (sentencing) was the most difficult aspect of any case.

“Your matter has been before this court for an enormously long time and determination of the appropriate sentence is the most difficult part,” he said.

He stated that over the years of the trial, the court had acquainted itself with facts of the matter but never before had it heard of such a number of counts of premeditated murder.

“I carefully use the word premeditated simply because you have mentioned it that you committed the crimes after you were convicted for an offence you had not committed,” the judge directed to Simelane.

Annandale said he, himself, would have sympathy for a person who is convicted for an offence he has not committed but stated there was a procedure to deal with such grief.

“What is not acceptable is for you to revenge on women and your hatred was not focused on the women only but on innocent infants,” he stated.

The judge said Simelane could not be released from the Correctional Services and said there was no easy way either.


“However, I cannot overlook the atrocities you have done on defenceless women and you have not asked this court to be lenient on you probably because you were on a revenge,” Annandale noted.

In the end he said he had come to the unenviable task of pronouncing the sentence where he said he was only left with two options.

“On the one hand, I have considered the 28 people which could equal to 700 years and the other is death penalty as the Director of Public Prosecutions has pointed out,” he said.

The judge stated that in most cases the aspect of sentence was entirely discretional but he did say that in certain crimes of murder, the court was enjoined by the Criminal Procedure Act of 1938 where the death sentence can be passed. He said even then there were certain aspects to be considered.

Annandale stated that Simelane killed 28 women and someone who had done that could not be allowed to live in society.

He said since he started working on the judgment, he did not know what the outcome would be.

“I have always asked myself what the sentence would be and it boiled down to the two options,” he disclosed. “Mr. Simelane or Mhlanga you shall hang by your neck till you die,” he ruled.


His trial began in 2004 and about 83 witnesses testified against him. At the beginning of the trial, Simelane was represented by attorney, Lucky Howe, who was at some stage, fired as pro deo counsel after accusations that he was delaying the case.

However, Simelane engaged Howe as a private attorney, but was eventually forced to drop him because of the alleged delays.

In came top criminal attorney, Mduduzi Mabila who saw the case taking a new twist with Simelane saying he killed no one despite a confession which he had made before the late Magistrate Charles Masango.

You never showed any remorse - Judge

Judge Jacobus Annandale noted that throughout the trial, serial killer, David Simelane never showed any remorse nor apologised to the friends and families of the victims he murdered.

The judge stated that this was probably because Simelane premeditated the commission of the offences. “You have more than once stated that you were upset with the conviction of a rape you had not committed,” the judge stated.

Justice Annandale lamented the fact that Simelane decided to revenge on any woman he met. “You have not shown an iota of remorse and the court cannot find you remorseful,” he said. He mentioned that he considered taking Simelane to the witness box so that he could speak for himself and say whether he was sorry or remorseful.

“I cannot compel you to say sorry nor do I expect you to say that this court convicted you correctly.”

He stated that during his last conviction Simelane decided what he wanted to do and went ahead and killed a large number of Swazi women and children. He said ever since the trial began the court had never heard a single word of apology. “There is not even a single half-hearted attempt to show remorse,” he stated. Further, Annandale said even the friends and families of the victims never got an apology from Simelane.

“The only thing that appears is revenge,” he stated. However, Simelane’s lawyer, Mduduzi Mabila said Simelane had been kept at the maximum prison since his arrest and was not allowed to see other people. “That is the reason he could not say his apologies,” Mabila reasoned.

There are no extenuating factors - DPP

Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy Dlamini, says there were no extenuating factors which would have otherwise led serial killer David Simelane to kill 28 people.

Dlamini said Simelane was a previous convict who soon after his release, embarked on a killing spree because he was vengeful.

In his confession, Simelane stated that he killed women simply because he had been convicted of rape, an offence he denies ever committing. He said he robbed the woman but never raped her.

The judge further stated that while serving his sentence, Simelane thought of revenge which he did after his release.

“I do not see any extenuating circumstances in this matter. The reason stated in the confession does not extenuate at all,” Dlamini argued. She pointed out the issue of the murder of children.

“If he killed women because they fabricated a story for him, what about the children?” she said.

Simelane’s lawyer, Mabila, submitted that Simelane committed the offences out of revenge because of injustices done to him. Mabila said this was the court’s finding in the confession hence it should be applied subjectively as opposed to objectively.

“The court should apply the subjective test in dealing with the confession. Its truthfulness should not be selective,” he pleaded.

Judge Annandale confessed that in the past he had to bend in order to find extenuating circumstances in murder cases.


“I have elevated the flimsiest of excuses or remorse to enable the court find extenuating circumstances, however, not with the present matter,” he stated.

He said the court could not fall for the reason that Simelane killed the people because of a conviction on a crime he had not committed.

“Even if it was so, how would it apply to the infants that were killed?” the judge said.

Judge Annandale stated that based on everything put in court, he could not find any extenuating circumstances which could prevent him from meting a death penalty.
Simelane’s lawyer said the death sentence was not mandatory but he left it to the court to determine the appropriate sentence.

David faced death or 700 years in jail

David Simelane was between a rock and a hard place on Friday at the High Court. This was because presiding judge, Jacobus Annandale stated that after careful consideration of all that had been put before court, it all boiled down to two options.

Annandale said Simelane’s release was not one of those options. “One the one hand, I considered that for the 28 people you could be sentenced to 700 years in jail and the other could be death sentence as the Crown has suggested,” he said. He revealed that the sentencing stage was the most difficult but eventually said Simelane was going to be hanged until he died. He said owing to the atrocities that Simelane had done to women and children, he could not be allowed to live with society hence he condemned him to death.

Judge warns celebrating people

Soon after hearing that serial killer, David Simelane was going to be hanged, the public on the gallery forgot for a moment they were in court and celebrated.

However; this did not go down well with Judge Annandale. He said a person was going to be killed and did not know why they were celebrating.

“This is bad. You should be shocked,” the judge stated. The public gallery was filled to rafters with people who wanted to know Simelane’s fate. After the judgment, most of them felt justice had been done which is why they celebrated.

Mabila to appeal on the confession

David Simelane’s lawyer, Mduduzi Tsotsi Mabila will appeal on the admissibility of the confession which Simelane made before Magistrate Charles Masango.

The said confession was recorded on the 8th May 2001 after Simelane was arrested in Nhlangano.

Mabila complained during trial that at the time the confession was made, Simelane ought not to have been in police custody but Correctional services.

He further said the confession was not voluntarily recorded because Simelane was threatened with death. Simelane himself also stated in the witness box that the he did not record the confession voluntarily.

He told the court that the late Superintendent Jomo Mavuso had warned him that if he did comply with the police, he was going to die in their custody.


He (Simelane) further said he was suffocated and that upon entering the room, where such was done to him, the late Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla was shocked that he was alive.

On Friday, Mabila argued that the said confession must be taken by the court wholly because it had admitted it as evidence.

“Irrespective of the fact that we are going to challenge the confession, it must be taken in all its four corners,” he argued.

He pleaded with the court to apply a subjective test in dealing with the confession as opposed to objectively and that its truthfulness should not be selective.

In the said confession, Simelane confessed to have killed the women by strangling them to death with his own hands.

Judgment was not influenced - Annandale

Judge Jacobus Annandale says the court’s ruling in the case of serial killer David Simelane was not influenced by women organisations or any other person.

He said the court had on its shoulders only the interest of society but stressed that no one influenced its decision.

“This court has not been pressured or influenced by women organisations or any one on how to deal with this matter,” he boldly stated. He said the court was enjoined to consider the seriousness of the crime.

“I cannot overlook the atrocities you have done to defenceless women,” he said to Simelane.

Further, Annandale noted that Simelane had not asked the court to be lenient towards him probably because he did the crimes out of revenge.

He conceded, however, that coming to sentencing was the most unenviable aspect of a case. He said ever since the court started working on the conclusions of the case, he had wondered what the outcome would be. Annandale further admitted that never in the history of the court had it heard of such a number of counts of premeditated murder.

Simelane stated that he killed the women out of revenge, having been convicted of rape, an offence he never committed. This was, however, rejected by the judge who said such a grief could have been dealt with the proper way.

“What is not acceptable is for you to revenge on women and innocent infants,” Annandale stated.

He argued that having been convicted 18 times, Simelane ought to have known how to deal with his dissatisfaction regarding his conviction.

“But during your last years in prison, you decided what you wanted to do and went ahead and killed a large number of Swazi women and children and a person who has done that cannot be allowed to live in society,” he noted.

... David has 18 previous convictions

David Simelane was convicted 18 times before being found guilty of murder.

This was revealed on Friday during the mitigation before he was sentenced to death.

Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy Dlamini presented evidence to that effect and when the judge asked Simelane if it was true, he responded to the affirmative.

“Do you confirm that you were convicted before,” Judge Annandale enquired from Simelane.

“Yes My Lord, it is true,” he responded. Simelane was convicted of rape and robbery cases between 1993 to 1997.

However, his lawyer, Mabila, argued that the previous convictions were irrelevant to the present one because they were committed more than 10 years ago and that they were not similar to murder, which Simelane is guilty of.


But the DPP argued that nor sooner had Simelane been released than he started committing crimes.

“The offences are relevant. It was attack after attack on other people,” she stated.

Mabila wondered how robbery convictions could be competent verdict for murder. Mabila further decried the fact that there was no evidence when Simelane was released from custody.

I could hang David – hangman

Swaziland’s long serving hangman, Lusiba Paul ‘Touch’ Simelane says were it not for his advanced age, he would definitely be ready to hang serial killer David Simelane if called to do so.

He says he would be looking forward to the assignment, especially because David was a peculiar case unheard of in the history of the country by killing 28 people.

Touch adds that he can’t wait to hear the sentence because previously, killers were paroled after doing a very short time in prison and claiming to be born again Christians.

“I know this job and I have been doing it for years. Most of those who joined the police force with us are now dead. We worked hard at the prisons and gained a lot of experience. Were it not for age I would still hang David.” Ironically, Touch has the same surname as David.

The hangman reveals that they used to work as a team when handling dangerous criminals and murderers. Judges of the High Court a decade ago were joined by journalists to inspect the country’s prisons, including the hangman’s chamber at Sidvwashini prison.

When warders demonstrated to the judges how convicts on deathrow were hanged, they all scampered away as the lever was pulled for the body to dangle from the noose.


Touch’s last assignment was in the early 80s but since then, no one has been hanged in Swaziland even though capital punishment is enshrined in the constitution.

Relaxed at his home in Sidvwashini, where sells his popular tripe dish, injebovu, Touch recalls the case of one Maseko of Lamgabhi, who was sentenced to 43 years for a string of cases and the public felt the judge was too harsh.

Touch also says David could not be possibly alone to kill so many people and that the country still deserves to know the reason why all the killings.

In 1998, there were widespread reports that Swaziland was looking for a hangman and it was around the same time that Touch said Swaziland should look no further because he was there with all the experience and would love to take up the job. At the time it was reported that there were 15 prisoners waiting to be hanged.

At the time, urgent adverts from the ministry of justice said the government was seeking a “brave young man who has what it takes” to start immediately and help relieve the growing pressure on maximum-security facilities at Matsapha prison. The last person to be hanged was Phillipa Mdluli, who killed her domestic servant’s daughter to extract body parts for ritual purposes.

In South Africa, serial killer Moses Sithole killed 41 people. In Botswana a serial killer who made news two years ago is said to have killed six.

David guilty of 28 counts of murder, wins only six
March 24, 2011

SERIAL killer David Thabo Simelane has been found guilty of murder. Simelane, who was facing murder 34 murder charges, was yesterday convicted of 28 counts. He will know his sentence next Friday.

He was acquitted on six after spending 10 years in custody without his unduly protracted trial brought to finality.

High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale based his 232-page bumper verdict on confession statements Simelane made to the late Manzini Magistrate Charles Masango and former Manzini Magistrate Nkosinathi Nkonyane (now Industrial Court Judge) after his arrest in April 2001 in Nhlangano.

Initially, Simelane was facing 35 murder charges. One was withdrawn by the Crown during the course of the trial.

High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale said the identification of personal property which used to belong to missing relatives that were recovered either in the immediate areas where the human remains were found or from a place where Simelane had taken the police to, “justifies the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn the deceased persons are those lost relatives who used to own the personal belongings.”

The judge also stated that it was clear that Simelane killed the women out of revenge after he was allegedly incarcerated for a rape he never committed. It is clear, the judge noted, Simelane was angry.


The judge said it was this body of evidence which proved the commissioning of the individual crimes, which Simelane confessed to, fortified by himself when he pointed out the different scenes to the police.

“When relatives positively swear to the fact that particular items used to belong to a missing person and it is not gainsayed, such uncontroverted evidence readily be dismissed at a whim,” remarked the judge.

Justice Annandale observed that the well established patterns of evidence were present in all counts, from the very beginning when the female victims were enticed by the accused to take up employment somewhere.

He said a key witness in this trial was Detective Solomon Mavuso (PW 79).

“His evidence served to detail the overall process from the time when reports about missing persons started to escalate, the discovery of human remains in isolated areas, the collection of evidence which culminated in a firm description of the suspect person, then the events which followed after the arrest of the accused, the confession, pointing out, evidence gathering, the identification processes and ultimately the indictment of the accused. His evidence is voluminous and detailed,” he said.

Simelane was represented by Mduduzi ‘Tsotsi’ Mabila while Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini appeared for the Crown.

David murdered victims out of revenge - Judge Annandale

DAVID Thabo Simelane murdered his victims out of revenge after being previously convicted for raping a woman, High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale accepts.

Remarked Justice Annandale; “Although the establishment of motive for the crime of murder does not carry remotely the same prominence in our law as contrast with American jurisprudence, the accused has volunteered his motive for the multiple murders as part of his confession.”

The judge said Simelane, in his confession statement, said it was out of revenge for having been incarcerated for the crime of rape which he did not commit.

“He admits to having robbed the same woman but he says that he was grossly and unfairly treated by also having wrongly been convicted and imprisoned for having raped the same woman, hence his revenge,” he said.

“The court accepts that he murdered the victims out of revenge. This dispels the often mooted diverse theories and speculation in the media that he had some more sinister motives, or that he was assisted by highly placed persons, or that he harvested body parts for equally sinister, undisclosed but highly placed individuals,” said the judge.

Mabila to appeal

DAVID Simelane’s lawyer Mduduzi Tsotsi Mabila has stated that he will appeal the verdict of the case of his client.

Simelane was found guilty of killing 28 women.

Mabila made his intentions known soon after judgment had been delivered. He argued that a suspect cannot be convicted on the basis of a confession.

“There must be evidence,” he argued.

He further stated that the said confession was vague and was allegedly forged. He stated though that he was still going to go through the written judgment.

During trial, Simelane stated that he made the confession under duress.

He said police officers had told him what to say before the magistrate and threatened him with death if he ever deviated from what he had been ordered to say.

Simelane told the court that the late Superintendent Jomo Mavuso actually told him that he was going to die at the hands of the police if he did not admit to having killed the missing people. According to Simelane, another top detective, the late Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla, was annoyed when he found him alive at Sigodvweni police after being suffocated by police under his (Ndlangamandla) instruction.

...David was ready for verdict - Mabila

Mduduzi Mabila disclosed yesterday.

Mabila said his client was prepared for anything thing.

“I had indicated to him that there is no draw in a trial and he was ready,” he revealed. Simelane was found guilty in 28 counts. At present, Mabila stated that he had the duty to explain to his client what the verdict means and what the next step is.

Senators share different views on David verdict

SENATORS expressed different views on serial killer David Simelane’s guilty verdict.

Whilst Senator Victor Malambe said it would be unfair if the serial killer would be sentenced without him explaining why he killed the 28 women, Senator Moi Moi Masilela said lawyers dragged the case for personal gains. Some of the senators said justice has been delayed, stating that though it was a good thing that the case would be put to rest it was not going to bring total closure to the relatives.

Here is what the senators had to say:

Moi Moi Maselela – “David could have been charged for killing just one person. Lawyers delayed the case so that they would make money. Bebadla ngalo lelicala.We are hoping that there would be a fair sentence.”

Victor Malambe -“David should explain why he killed those women so that the relatives would have closure. We want to know if he was sent by someone, what was pushing him behind, these are some of the questions that have to be answered.”

Nozibele Bujela – “As a mother I am happy about the judgment but I am hoping that the sentence would also be satisfying. I believe that this shows that the case would be finally put to rest. as a woman I am happy because David targeted women. We are hoping that he would not be able to hurt anyone as he is going behind bars.”

Winnie Nxumalo – “Mine is to say that justice delayed is justice denied. The justice that has been done might not serve the intended purpose, especially to the relatives. The justice system in this country is slow and we hope this would change soon. We hope the justice would speed up so that the sentences would be relevant.”

Ndileka – “Glory be to God, we are very happy about the verdict. This judgment would not have been possible if it was not for the power of God. We hope that the sentence would be passed soon and it would not be light.”

Themba Msibi – “The fact that there is progress in the case is comforting. The case has dragged on for a long time and we are hoping no other case would drag for this long. We are just hoping that the sentence would be fair.”

Edgar Hillary – “I will only be able to comment on the case once it has been finalised. I will reserve my comments for now.”

‘Late Khethokwakhe was an outstanding witness’

LATE police top Detective Senior Superintendent Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla, who was killed in a car accident during the course of the trial, was one of the best witnesses to ever testify during David Simalane’s trial.

The judge said Ndlangamandla was the officer-in charge of the investigation team while Sergeant Solomon Mavuso was a member.

He observed that Ndlangamandla’s whole demeanour, cool calm and collected, radiated a confidence in the accuracy and veracity of his evidence like few others.

“He displayed a most remarkable capacity of memory to logically, chronologically and systematically testify as to the events he was called upon to present in court,” he said.

“He was unfazed by numerous interruptions. He was also subjected to an enormously protracted barrage of cross-examination, much of which was entirely irrelevant or which could not advance the matter any further. He was questioned in minute and often times repetitive details.”

He said Ndlangamandla never lost his patience or displayed any detectable signs of annoyance, arrogance or impatience, giving full and comprehensive responses to everything he was asked.

“From time to time he asked of the court to refresh his memory from notes which he made at the time of the investigative process, which was repeatedly objected to by Mr. Howe (then defence counsel Lucky Howe).”

‘Lucky Howe wrongly accused Ndlangamandla, Mavuso’

FORMER defence counsel Lucky Howe wrongly accused the late Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla and Sergeant Solomon Mavuso at times of reading from their notes to accurately convey their evidence.

He said both Ndlangamandla and Mavuso were regularly castigated by counsel for their need to verify from notes which they personally made during the course of the investigation. “The duration of cross-examination of each of these two police officers was tedious and protracted as it ever could be, bordering on and often going beyond the point of badgering and simply exhausting an exacerbated witness,” he remarked. “Despite this, both police officers never fell for the laborious trap which was being set up for them. Both continued to courteous, long suffering and consistent. Both left a lasting impression that the evidence which they gave can safely be relied upon as full and accurate renditions of what they came to testify about. “Most unfortunately, Mr. Ndlangamandla, who had entered retirement from the police service by the time he testified as witness, suffered serious health problems.

“He regularly had to undergo kidney dialysis in hospital to avoid renal failure. Despite this, his sense of duty prevailed and in cognisance of the importance of his evidence and his sense of duty, he attended court as often as he could and for as long as he could.

Judge Jacobus Annandale’s conclusion on each count

*COUNT I and 2 (deceased Thandi Dlamini and Kwanda Khanya, respectively) “It might be very well have been that one Sipho Dlamini took the late Thandi Dlamini and her child, as well as others whom he accused equally stated to have been taken by Dlamini, but yet again, it does not serve the purpose of also inferring that Sipho Dlamini was somehow also responsible for the deaths nor did the accused blame him for that. This imputes no blame on Sipho Dlamini. The accused confessed to a magistrate that there was one Thandi Dlamini, who was with a child. She was from St. Philip’s and was his sister-in-law. He had promised her work and that he killed her and the child by strangling them at Bhunya Forest. The Crown has proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in respect of counts one and two.

*COUNT 3 Withdrawn by the prosecution prior to plea due to duplication of identities of the deceased person referred in count 1.

* COUNT 4 (deceased Vosho Dlamini) “Vosho Dlamini was referred to by the accused as his girlfriend over a year, with a very serious relationship between them, not just a casual encounter. What is relevant and decisive is the confession of the accused wherein he stated with regards then that there was Vosho Dlamini, who was his girlfriend from St. Philipp’s. He also went with her to Macetjeni where she strangled her with his hands until she died.

*Count 5 (deceased Zanele Thwala) “The deceased was another lover of the accused, who not only shared her bed and rented flat with him but whose advanced pregnancy allegedly was to render him the father. When taken in conjunction the confession of the accused where he said that ‘Zanele Thwala of Mambane was my live-in lover: ‘We stayed at Luyengo. We left for Luyengo to Malkerns. We were just walking until we got to Bhunya forest where I strangled her with my hands until she died.’ There remains no reasonable doubt that the accused also murdered this victim.”

Count 6 (deceased Twana Dlamini) “The deceased was the sister of Vosho and Thandi Dlamini. The accused said Twana Dlamini was from St. Philipp’s, as all relevant witness stated. In his confession he said ‘I promised her a job and I told her to meet me at Manzini Bus Rank. She came and we met. I then proceeded with her to Malkerns where I strangled her with my hands to death.’ The combination of evidence in this court with nothing gainsay it save for a bare blanket denial of wrongdoing in any of the multitude of charges, culminates in a finding that in count 6, the Crown has also established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”

Count 7 (deceased Dumsile Tsabedze) “The accused shared a flat with the accused at Malkerns. The extraneous evidence on which the crown relies to prove that this offence actually has been committed is on all four with the contents of the confession wherein the accused said that: ‘Then there was Dumsile Tsabedze from Ncangosini area with whom we stayed together. She was my live-in lover. I left with her and told her we were going to my parental home. We used to stay together at Malkerns. When we got to Capha Mountain, I strangled her to death with my hands.’ Within nothing to controvert this part from a general distancing by the accused from any wrongdoing anywhere, the end result inevitably is that the guilt of the accused in count 7 has also been proved beyond a reasonable of doubt.”

Count 8 and 9 (deceased Fikile Motsa and her one year-old baby Lindokuhle Motsa) “The accused confessed to the judicial officer in the following words: ‘Then there was Fikile Motsa from Sidwala area. She was with her child who was one year or just above one year old. I found her at Manzini bus rank. She said she was looking for work. I promised her work and we left Manzini to Malkerns. We got to Golden area where I killed her and the child by strangling them.’ These chilling words prove the answer as to how the mother and her baby ended up dead instead of reaching their original destination.”

Count 10 (deceased Phakamile Vilakati) “He confessed to the late Magistrate Masango that ‘There was another from Kukhulumeni in Mankayane whose surname is Vilakati. I went with her after I had promised her a job. I got with her a Capha where I strangle her to death.’ Although the confession does not include a first name, it is the only Vilakati he mentioned.

Count 11 and 12 (deceased Rose Nunn and her 13-month-old baby Nothando Khumalo) “The accused confessed that: ‘there was Num (sic) by surname whom I found at the same park next to the City Council offices in Manzini. She had a child with her of about 18 to 20 months. She was looking for a job and I promised her on. We left for Malkerns and we got to Malkerns forest I strangled her with her child.’ The spelling and sound of Num and Nunn are so similar that it is of no consequence.”

Count 13 (deceased Sanele Tsabedze) “The accused stated that: “There was another one who stayed at Matsapha but was from Malindza. Her surname was Tsabedze. I found her at the Manzini Bus Rank looking for a job. I promised her one and we proceeded to Malkerns. I went with her to Bhunya forest where I strangle and stabbed her to death.

Some of the highlights of David Simelane’s case

1. Lawyer Lucky Howe is fired as pro deo counsel for Simelane but the latter then engages him as a private attorney.

2. Howe files in an application for the judge’s recusal from the matter which he loses. He appeals, but while waiting for the verdict of the appeal, in January 2011, ‘Tsotsi’ Mabila is appointed as pro deo for Simelane. Reasons advanced by the court are that he is delaying the case by his continuous absence.

3. On his first day in the matter, Mabila applies that eight witnesses be recalled and this is done.

4. David Simelane speaks for the first time since his arrest and tells the court that he actually killed no one

5. Simelane reveals that he was actually a go-between and that his role was to connect the missing people with one Sipho Dlamini of Logoba who was an employment agent

6. Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy Dlamini weeps in court as she narrates the murder of one Zanele Thwala who was pregnant when she met her death.

7. David has five surnames as it is revealed: Simelane, Mhlanga, Yende, Gwebu and Thwala

8. Simelane, through his lawyer, tells the court that he will answer only five of the 34 counts he was facing

9. He tells the court that people approached him for employment and he in turn got them connected them to one Sipho Dlamini

10. His trial is one of the longest, it began in 2004 yet he was arrested in May 2001

11. One of the witnesses Superintendent Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla took the whole year in the witness box

12. Much against expectation, Simelane addressed Judge Annandale in English one day. “I have no comment,” he tells the court when told that one of the witnesses Nelsiwe Mamba saw him with one Sibongile Dlamini, his in-law.

13. He changed tone one day as the DPP Mumcy Dlamini, cornered him and said he had seen one of the victims Thandi Dlamini. Earlier he had stated that he never saw her (deceased) after he had handed her over to Sipho Dlamini

14. DPP, Mumcy Dlamini, complains of illtreatment.This was during the many objections made by Mabila during the trial.

15. David denies ever writing a letter which purportedly told Thandi Dlamini’s family that she was busy at work which was why she was not coming home.

16. He had more than one girlfriend, among them Vosho, Zanele, Gugu to name a few

17. He was a football person according to his own admission. In his testimony he said he met many people in football matches.

18. He does not know where Sipho Dlamini is and does not know why police did not look for him (Sipho) because he mentioned it to them that there was a third person (Sipho)

David Simelane lashes out at women


MBABANE – Suspect serial killer David Simelane yesterday lashed out and sternly warned over 60 women who taunted him in court to shut up

He also told them to allow the court to do its work. Simelane, who had always appeared in control during his court appearances, was being led out of the High Court by warders after his case was yet again postponed.

The women had responded to a call by the Campaign co-ordinator of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Abuse, Sinethemba Dlamini, during the Coordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations (CANGO) breakfast meeting on Tuesday.

Dlamini called on both men and women to attend the trial in solidarity with Simelane’s alleged victims. Simelane is accused of killing over 30 women including children in different parts of the country in 2001. Yesterday, the women had started by protesting and singing songs against the delay in concluding the matter. This was before they moved into the public gallery where they continued in song, calling for the case to be concluded soon.

They had to be reprimanded by Judge Jacobus Annandale who told them to keep quiet as they passed comments and made provocative gestures at Simelane, who all along had sat quietly in the accused box as if not hearing the taunts. The women asked Simelane why he had killed all those women. Some even complained that he was well taken care of in prison as he had gained a lot of weight and looked healthy.

Simelane had ignored all the taunts until the judge postponed the case and left the courtroom. As he was being led out, Simelane turned and faced his accusers.


“You women up there, stop talking about things you don’t know. Stop castigating me. You are clueless about what you are talking about. The court knows the truth. Stop saying things that will provoke me,” he said in vernacular (Yeyi nine bomake. Aseniyekele lokungimosha. Nite liciniso lekutsi loku lenitsi ngakwenta vele ngakwenta. Yinkantolo kuphela leneliciniso ngalendzaba. Yekelani ke lokungimosha).

He had to be called to order by his attorney Lucky Howe who told him not to address or respond to the taunts. Simelane’s sudden outburst did not deter the women who responded, saying he was lucky as he was being taken back to be fed in prison. The case continues this morning at 9:30am.

...women sing, dance at the High Court

MBABANE- Over 100 people who had come to observe the case of serial killer David Simelane arrived at the High Court yesterday on a high note.

The people, mostly women, almost caused a scene at the entrance of the court. They started singing songs lamenting on the numerous postponements of the case.

Most of the people who were there had been mobilised by Coordinating Assembly of Non Governmental Organisations (CANGO) and the Council of Swaziland Churches. They were clad in T-shirts from an organisation known as Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) written ‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’

As they were singing, officers from the Royal Swaziland Police requested them to move outside the court as they were disturbing proceedings. “You are not allowed to sing inside the court. You are disturbing the work of the judges. Just go and sing outside,” an officer said.

Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Gender Officer, Ntombi Langwenya explained why they were following the proceedings of the case: “As we commemorate 16 days of activism on Gender Based Violence, we are disappointed that this case does not come to an end. We feel that justice delayed is justice denied. So we appeal to the state to speed up the case,” she said. The case is expected to continue today.

Khethokwakhe indisposed, case postponed again

MBABANE - The trial of alleged serial killer David Simelane was postponed yet again as key witness Khethokwakhe Ndlangam-andla is indisposed.

This case had been previously postponed on a number of occasions due to various reasons. Yesterday was another of those days where the people left the court greatly disappointed. When the trial was to begin at 9.30a.m., both the Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini and the defence counsel Lucky Howe had not arrived. High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale, who is presiding over the matter had to wait for their arrival, while he attended to other matters.

Lawyer Mduduzi Mathunjwa, from the DPP’s office informed the court that the DPP had requested to see the judge in his chambers.

When the matter was to resume at 11.15 a.m., Judge Annandale said it could not proceed as the main investigating officer Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla is indisposed.

More incriminating evidence against serial killer found

May 31, 2006

Simelane is already facing charges of first-degree murder for killing 34 women in different parts of the country between 1994 and 2002.

Busisiwe Dlamini, a relative of three deceased women yesterday testified that the accused had confessed to the family that he murdered them. Simelane pleaded not guilty to all charges. The case has been adjourned till Monday.

“Initially we thought Simelane was joking until he identified the items of clothing the deceased were wearing the day he killed them” said Dlamini.

The alleged serial killer also murdered one of the three sisters’ son Kwandza Khanya who was 8 months old at the time.

Dlamini said she she had personally seen Simelane leaving with one of the sisters whom she identified as Simelane's girlfriend on April 13, 2001. She explained that they bordered a public transport at St. Phillips situated in the Southern east of Swaziland apparently because Simelane wanted to take her to Matsapha after promising to offer her a job.

Dlamini said they had expected the three sisters to return home during the Easter holidays but they did not show up until the family received a phone call from the Malkerns Police Station summoning them to identify clothes of missing persons.

Swaziland Serial Killer ordered for psychiatric observation

September 9, 2004

The Mbabane High Court has ordered that alleged Swaziland serial killer David Simelane be sent for psychiatric observation, SABC radio news reported on Monday.

Simelane appeared in court, where 35 charges of murder were read to him.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Simelane has been sent for observation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial...He is expected back in court on Friday.

The state alleges that Simelane is responsible for Swaziland's worst spate of killings.

The murders of female job seekers took place between 1999 and 2001. – Sapa

Swazi serial killer to reveal more evil

June 28, 2001

What is evil? Can you touch it, sense it, or feel it? For the people of Swaziland, evil has a name: David Simelane.

The 43-year-old convicted rapist could turn out to be southern Africa's worst serial killer.

So far, police believe, he has killed 45 people - but there could be more.

Simelane, who has pointed out a number of sites where police found human bones and skeletons, has indicated that he will take police to other sites this week.

On Thursday, The Star went to his main killing field. Deep in the heart of the Sappi-Usuthu Forest in the Malkerns area, you can sense evil. It was here that Swazi police made the grisly discovery of 28 decomposed bodies in March this year.

So far, the mutilated and naked bodies of 41 women and four children - a baby aged nine months and toddlers aged two, three and four - have been found at different sites across the country.

Some were buried, others just thrown into bushes or among rocks. Some of the victims had their breasts and vaginas cut out, others were beheaded, some strangled, others raped. Their names glare out at you from white sheets of paper at Matsapha police station.

The disjointed, terse phrases tell a stark story: Adult/Child, Found: Rocks/Mountains, Pine Tree Forest, Buried/Not Buried, Naked and Decomposed. Victim 1, Victim 2, Victim 3...

The notes cover the walls where detectives are busy around the clock with their investigation.

Victims' clothing takes up tables and the floor in the office: a baby's blue jersey; a baby top, the arm area ripped off; a navy leather purse; muddied and broken shoes; a pile of unidentifiable clothing, old and worn by exposure to the elements; a pyjama jacket emblazoned with two teddy bears hugging and the words "I'm yours forever".

A pair of muddied and torn denim jeans bear testimony to the struggle one victim put up before her death.

The clothes will, police hope, help families identify a number of victims who still remain nameless.

The forest murders have left Swaziland in a state of shock and fear.

The Sappi-Usuthu Forest, once a spot where lovers would rendezvous, is now eerily empty. Now even brave men won't tread there. Thick grey mist and deep mud make it even more ominous.

In the quiet of day, walking in the forest, fear creeps up. Being dragged there by a serial killer, among the thorns, nettles and jutting out branches in the middle of the night must have been beyond terrifying.

It is believed that Simelane started the killings shortly after being released in 1998 from Matsapha Maximum Prison, where he served 15 years of a 20-year-rape sentence.

Shortly after his release, the woman who testified at his trial that she had been raped by Simelane was found dead.

Simelane was immediately suspected and he went on the run using the alias David Ali Mhlanga.

He allegedly confessed to police that after this first murder he started his spree of killings.

The next occurred in October 1999. It is believed that Simelane was bitter and vengeful toward women after his time in jail and is thought to have picked up most of his victims at pubs.

One woman who escaped death was the girlfriend with whom he was living at the time of his arrest in April this year. They lived in a flat in Luyengo, close to Malkerns, where a number of the murders took place.

When she heard that he had confessed to being the serial killer, she packed her things and fled.

By then police had already found 28 bodies.

Serial killer shatters myth of safety

May 15, 2001

Swaziland's first known serial killer, David Simelane - charged recently with the slayings of 34 people and suspected to be responsible for the deaths of others - has done more than prematurely end the lives of dozens of women and children. He has exposed to Swazis the myth of their national belief, that Swaziland is a country where members of extended families living within multi-generational homesteads look out for their own, where crime is low because everyone knows everyone else.

“We have been living with an illusion that the traditional ways that safeguarded our ancestors still protect us in a rapidly changing society,” says Dr. Thandi Malepe, director of the Swaziland Psychiatric Institute. “The serial killings have proven that false.”

Charged under his surname Simelane, though he is more widely known by the pseudonym David Mhlanga, the killer preyed on women traveling through both rural and urban areas. His victims were either alone or with small children, and police sources speculate they were often hitchhiking. Evidence at the crime scenes showed that the women were raped and decapitated. The children were suffocated, and some were found with plastic bags over their heads.

“This had been going on for probably two years,” said Magagula. “Most of the bodies were severely decomposed, others were mere skeletons. They were buried under thin coatings of dirt and pine needles.” Most of the bodies were discovered within the SAPPI/Usuthu Company's commercial forests in the rural community of Malkerns, about 30 km from the capital Mbabane.

These gruesome finds were at first assumed to be the work of another suspect, Bongani Vilakati. In July 2000, the bodies of six people were unearthed at Vilakati's farm in Malkerns. He was implicated by two Mozambicans who were hired by Vilakati to dig the graves, and were arrested by police for their role in assisting the killer. For eight months, Vilakati was in hiding, until he was spotted by police, chased through a maize field, and fatally shot.

The Swazi media criticised the police for shooting the unarmed suspect, who if he had lived might have shed some light on reports of missing persons in the Malkerns area.

But what bothers observers of Swazi life more is that so few of the victims were reported missing by their families. The bodies of one woman and her child who did receive attention turned up along the Malkerns roadside after her distraught husband placed newspaper ads asking for information.

“We have to be careful about blaming the police for not doing more to stop the serial killings while they were in progress, because there were few missing persons reports,” says a source with the Royal Swaziland Police Force.

“The crimes have highlighted the danger of assuming your relatives who are in transit are alright,” says Dr. Malepe.

Phefeni Vilakati (unrelated to the mass murder suspect Vilakati) is a social worker in rural Luve. He describes the poverty that leads women to put themselves in peril by wandering about the country. “The traditional homestead can no longer support all its residents, particularly now when AIDS is hitting so hard and taking away many breadwinners. Women go off, sometimes with their children, with only enough bus fare to get to a place like Malkerns, where they hope to find work. They have no money to get back.”

Malkerns is a centre of pineapple and sugar cane cultivation. Seasonal workers are employed at planting and harvesting time. Swazi custom prescribes that a newcomer to an area has to report to a chief, and a resident who gives shelter to a stranger has to do the same. This once had the salubrious effect of reducing crime. But in a modern peripatetic society, where men and women are in constant motion, the old formalities have largely disappeared from all but distant rural lands.

“Fifty years ago, Swazis lived their entire lives at their homesteads, and rarely ventured outside their chieftaincies,” says historian Richard Motsa. “The only ones who ever left the country went to South Africa to work in the mines under contract. They were illiterate, and did not write home. But their families knew they would eventually return.”

Motsa feels that the miners began the Swazi assumption that a family member may go off for long periods of time to seek work and not communicate, but all is well.

The communication infrastructure is still inadequate for the poor in Swaziland. Public telephones are few, and those that do exist are generally located within post offices, which close at four in the afternoon, or at shops that close in the evenings. Electricity, not to mention private phones, is a luxury in rural homesteads. None of Swaziland's 300 chiefs are connected to the worldwide web to send or receive e-mail. As for regular mail, illiteracy and slowness of delivery tend to discourage its use among the poor.

“So, off these woman go walking into the night, because the buses stop running at sundown,” says Khosi Mtetfwa, director of the women's counseling service Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA). She criticises the government for failing to provide a public transportation system, leaving riders at the mercy of private transport operations whose concern is profit.

In addition to counseling women and children who fall victim to rape and abuse, SWAGAA assembles statistics about these crimes. “All our figures will be skewed this year because of the serial killings,” says Mtetfwa. “If there is anything positive to come out of the serial killings, it is an awareness of the vulnerability of women to such crimes, and the need for better communication and transportation, a need to be vigilant.”

Non-government organisations and religious groups joined SWAGAA for a prayer vigil at the forest location where most of the bodies were discovered. At the time, police had posted a substantial reward for information leading to the apprehension of the killers. Police authorities suspected Vilakati was not the only one involved, if indeed the dead suspect was involved at all.

A wary fiancé broke the case. He had been tailing Simelane for several days after hearing that the woman he was to wed was last seen in his company. Why the unnamed woman was with Simelane may remain a mystery, because her body was discovered along with her eight-month-old child amongst the corpses uncovered in the forest. Besides Simelane's confession to having committed the murders, the circumstantial evidence of the woman seen with Simelane is the strongest link between him and the killings.

The fiancé alerted police to Simelane's whereabouts, and the suspect was picked up while shopping at a supermarket in the southern Swaziland town Nhlangano. The arrest and the subsequent confession of Simelane seem a bit tidy for Swazis, who are traumatised by the killings.

Dr. Malepe says, “Many people are asking how one man could carry out such killings, and why he would do so?”

One motive given by the suspect's foster father was that Simelane was bitter about a rape conviction that imprisoned him for 20 years. His release in 1999 corresponded with the first of the serial killings. “David felt he was wrongly convicted,” his father told the local press.

“Nonsense,” countered Manzini businesswoman Lindiwe Matsebula. “The way to protest your innocence is to prove you did not commit the crime in the first place, and not repeat the same crime 30 times and then kill the women you rape.”

Such an acerbic assessment indicates the emotions that have been stirred up by the serial killings. Swaziland has lost some of its innocence with these crimes. An expanding population, economic imperatives that drive people from their family homesteads, and a breakdown in the monitoring of strangers in chieftaincies allow psychopaths to carry out dastardly crimes new to the traditional kingdom.

“We no longer live in the womb of traditional life that used to protects us,” says Reverend Jabulani Dlamini of Manzini. “We must be more proactive to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, our women and children, from African predators. These predators are no longer lions and leopards. They wear human guises.”

Swazi man in court for deaths of 34 people

April 30. 2001

Mbabane - A 45-year-old former convict was charged with 34 murders on Monday after the discovery of the bodies of women and children in shallow graves in a forest.

The man, David Thabo Simelane, a Swazi national, was not asked to plead in the Manzini magistrate's court. He was remanded in custody until a new hearing on a date to be announced.

The murders took place between October 1999 and last month, the court was told. Police had earlier identified the man as David Mhlanga.

Four babies were among the dead. Some of the women's bodies were found lying face-down with their hands tied behind their backs, and about half the bodies had been decapitated, police said.

Some of the victims appeared to have been sexually abused before being killed, and most of the bodies were naked.

Swazi cops arrest man in serial killer case

April 26, 2001

Nhlangano - Swazi police have arrested a 40-year-old man in connection with the killing of at least 28 people whose remains were discovered in a forest.

The arrest took place at Nhlangano where police were alerted by a man whose wife went missing shortly after she was seen with the suspect.

The man's identity has not been disclosed. He is said to be a former convict who once served time for housebreaking and rape.

It is believed he had previously used the forest, where the bodies were found, to hide in while wanted on other charges.

He had a house in Luyengo, a few kilometres from Malkerns where the 28 bodies, mostly of women and children, were discovered.

The suspect is being held at the Matsapha police station, where he is being questioned about the murders.

The grisly discovery of bodies began three weeks ago when the first was found by a boy who was herding cattle in the forest.

A search by the country's security forces was carried out, leading to the discovery of the 28 bodies. A 29th body was found floating in the Great Usuthu River.

David Simelane

David Simelane

Alleged serial killer David Simelane alights from a police vehicle at Malkerns forests. This was during
an inspection in loco conducted by High Court Judge Jacobus Annandale in scenes where human
bones and skulls were found by investigators in this matter. Nkonyeni farm was also visited.

David Simelane

Judge Jacobus Annandale (l), Senior Superintendent Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla
and Director of Public Prosecutions Mumcy Dlamini at Malkerns Forests.

The investigating team at the crime scene.

Lawyer Lucky Howe (l), the Judge and Ndlangamandla taking notes.

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane

David Simelane


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