A man suspected in a string of grisly rapes and murders that gave a South African community the moniker “village of death” has been arrested, a local newspaper said Wednesday.
Bulelani Mabhayi, 39, was arrested on Sunday after an elderly woman was founded hacked to death the night before in theEastern Cape village of Tholeni, the Daily Dispatch reported.
He is being charged with a string of unresolved rapes and murders in the village where 19 women have been slain since 2009, police spokesman Jackson Manatha told the paper.
Police took Mabhayi to the village, where he pointed out the homes of his suspected victims, Manatha said.
“The whole village tailed the police as the man pointed out one house after the other,” he told the paper.
Mabhayi is related to convicted murderer Mqwalaseli Mabhayi, who this year was sentenced to two life terms over the murders of a 70-year-old and her 12-year-old granddaughter in Tholeni.
Residents said they were relieved but still scared.
“We don’t know if he was the only one committing these crimes or not. We will remain cautious until we know he was the only suspect,” resident Nowinile Mayekiso told the paper.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of rape and murder outside of a war zone. Although the number of murders has steadily declined since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, an average of 43 people are killed every day.