Warning: This article contains graphic details that may upset sensitive readers.
“The sight of that charred body with just bones and half a skull is one that will haunt me forever.”
These were the words of a Luthuli Park resident who identified himself as Papi, as he recalled the day he discovered the body of one of the seven women who were kidnapped and killed by an alleged serial killer.
Speaking to City Press outside his home in Seshego, where Limpopo police said at least two of the seven women were either reported kidnapped or missing, Papi relayed what he saw on that fateful Saturday morning.
“I remember that it was a Saturday because I am a hunter and that is when I go hunting.
“I was hunting on Dendron Road. My dog was chasing after guinea fowls and then it ran further into the field. I kept running after the dog because it belongs to a friend but I take it with me when I go hunting, so I did not want to lose it.”
Papi, paused, taking a moment to compose himself.
“It has not been easy at all.”
As tears filled his eyes, he continued: “The further the dog went, so did I, and at some point I caught up to it, not knowing it had stopped because of what it had found and what it had led me to – a corpse.”
According to Papi, the victim had been burnt beyond recognition.
He said as his voice trembled: Even though the person was burnt, I was able to recognise that this is a body, as half the skull was there. There were bones as well as a bit of flesh beneath the feet.
“I remember looking around me to see if anyone was nearby, but I was alone and I decided to head back home and quickly inform one of my community leaders.”
Papi explained to City Press that the distance between Dendron Road and Extension 9L was about an hour-long walk, so he rushed back as fast as he could.
After he had informed the community leader, the pair, together with three other men, rushed to the scene and police were subsequently informed.
However, for Papi, his nightmare was just beginning. It was later revealed that the body he had found was that of his neighbour, Mpho Sanah Sinyatsi (35).
According to Limpopo police, Sinyatsi was reported missing in Luthuli Park in October.
In a whisper, Papi said: I was not okay for a long time. I couldn’t sleep, eat, or even be on the streets. I am better now but I do not think I will ever function normally again.
He told City Press that what had hurt and disturbed him most was that he had known Sinyatsi but could not recognise her.
“There were no clothes around the body so I couldn’t tell that it was Mpho from the onset. When I found out it was Mpho, I didn’t take it well. Now I’m at least able to explain myself bit by bit. After what I saw that day I wasn’t in a good state.”
Themba Prince William Dube (34) has been arrested in connection with the murders.
Limpopo police say he was initially arrested for possession of a suspected stolen cellphone, which police later established belonged to a woman who was allegedly kidnapped in Lebowakgomo in October.
“When the initial investigations pointed to the possible involvement of a serial killer whose modus operandi was to lure women and promise them employment, the provincial commissioner of police in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, ordered that a team of investigators led by a senior officer be established to probe the disappearance of women in the Capricorn District,” Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said.The investigations soon led to the discoveries of seven bodies of women dumped at different locations in Seshego, Polokwane, Mankweng and Westenburg policing areas.
Dube, who appeared at Seshego Magistrates’ Court on Monday said that he would admit to all the charges brought against him.
Sinyatsi’s sister, Tshegofatso Manaka (25) told City Press that she had only recently been made aware that Papi was the one who had discovered the body.
When asked whether they were aware that Papi had been the one to discover the body, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in Limpopo, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi told City Press: “I can’t confirm based on the comment of the community member. We need to get the docket and check.”