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"Gay murders not the work of a serial killer" - SAPS

The SAPS’ investigations into the murders of five men currently excludes the possibility that it is the work of one murderer.

06 October 2011 | Yvonne Siphuka

Many believe that the murders are the work of a serial killer targeting homosexuals. Despite this belief, the SAPS stated that it does not consider this to be the work of a serial killer.

According to SAPS provincial spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Lungile Dlamini, four of the five men were found tied up and strangled inside private homes in the past 10 months.

Mr Oscar O’Hara was murdered in Kensington and Mr Barney van Heerden was found in his house in Orange Grove, on the border of the EXPRESS’ distribution area.

Mr Manolis Veloudos was murdered in Greenside in April last year.

“In December 2010, Mr Jim Cathels was found strangled and tied up in his home in Berea with no sign of forced entry. Mr O’ Hara was found at a friend’s home in Kensington where he had been housesitting at the time. He had also been strangled and bound,” said Lt Col Dlamini.

Another victim was Siphiwe Nhlapo who was murdered in Kliptown, Soweto.

“The most recent victim, Mr Van Heerden, was found on September 19 at his house in Orange Grove. He had also been strangled to death and tied up, and two used wine glasses were found on the scene.

“The SAPS investigators believe that because there was no forced entry and nothing was taken, robbery was not the motive,” said Lt Col Dlamini.

“Mr Van Heerden was registered on a dating site,” said Constable Thabo Malatjie from the Yeoville SAPS.

According Col Dlamini, the murders are being investigated as individual cases.

“We have excluded robbery as a motive but at this stage there is no further information that may suggest that the incidents are the work of a serial killer.

“Police are still following leads to identify suspects,” he said.

The Commission on Gender Equality has slammed the police and the Department of Justice for “not doing their best to solve homophobic crimes”.

Mr Javu Baloyi, spokesperson for the commission on gender equality, said that full investigations need to be conducted on all the murders.

“It is our firm belief that the Department of Constitutional Development and Department of Justice have to come to the party by ensuring that gay people receive the necessary attention and that these murders are properly investigated.

“The continued use of culture in order to disguise criminal intent against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people has to be strongly condemned,” he said.

Mr Jacques Livingstone, the health and lifestyle manager at Out, a Gauteng based LGBT organisation, said that the recent murders have been a great loss for the LGBT community.

According to Mr Livingstone people who use dating sites should get to know each other online before meeting in person.

“Online dating is not safe for anyone and with these recent gay killings, the same rule applies to anyone, whether they are gay or not.

“Meet the date in a public place. Notify someone about the date, the time and where you will be meeting.

“Ask a friend to phone 10 minutes after you have met the person and phone afterwards to hear how it went,” said Mr Livingstone.

He also advised to not leave drinks unattended.

“It is also a good thing to get the person’s full details before the meeting and do a thorough check.

“Remember to trust your intuition and do not rush into anything because safety is key,” he said.

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