South African serial killer guilty of nineteen rapes, sixteen murders

Friday, March 18, 2011

A judge in South Africa has convicted a serial killer of 52 crimes, including nineteen rapes, sixteen murders, an attempted murder and nine kidnappings. Jack Mogale was convicted before Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday of being what police had dubbed the West End Serial Killer. He was today sentenced to twenty concurrent life terms.

Mogale's crimes lasted a year from March 2008 to March 2009, coming to an end when police were passed his car's number plate information following a teen's disappearance. He was arrested shortly after the killing of a prostitute he had hired; he was found to have a phone stolen from another victim when he was detained.

Whilst the killer was still at-large police named him after the West-End factory, a building materials factory in Waterworks, Westonaria around which most of the attacks were centred. Other victims were attacked in Lenasia.

Judge Frans Kgomo also chose to convict Mogale, who is in his forties, of three aggravated robberies, sexual assault, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, theft or fraud and escaping lawful custody. He cleared the defendant, who took victims to open areas before comitting sexual murders, of nine other charges.

41 witnesses testified for the prosecution, including the only two women to survive. Both told the court he had introduced himself as a Zionist Christian preacher and prophet. He wore a Christian Zion badge and sangoma beads, which both victims identified; identity parades were also submitted as evidence. The accused's distinctive facial scar was recognised by the survivors.

The first described his help for a uterine ailment; she said he claimed he needed to have sex with her to exorcise a spirit from her and placed herbs in her vagina, but Mogale countered that they had consensual intercourse as part of an affair. The second said he took her to a veld and attacked her after giving her a lift, knocking her unconscious. Upon awakening the following day she said she had maggot-infested wounds and a dislocated jaw. Her genitals and neck were wounded; her front teeth were missing.

When I come out of here you will be the first person I rape and kill

—Mogale's words to policewoman

Most of the bodies were badly decomposed when they were found. They had mostly been killed by blunt force to the skull, either with a weapon or hitting their heads against the ground, although some were strangled. Two women were sodomized. DNA and mobile phone records linked him to the crimes. He originally confessed to police.

"I want you to help me," he told officers after his arrest. "When I am with a woman I lose control and do not know what to do. I kill all of them when they do not give me what I want."

Mogale's defence centred on accusations the witnesses - amongst them his partner, Charlotte Manaka - and police were trying to frame him. He said police took a condom used by he and Manaka to obtain forensic evidence to plant. Manaka directly contradicted this in her testimony, saying they did not use condoms, as well as saying Mogale regularly wore the beads and badge identified by victims. The couple have four children.

I am removing you permanently from society

—Judge Frans Kgomo

Judge Kgomo noted that "[t]his defence is very suspicious, especially because the DNA kit was compiled long before the accused was even identified as a suspect and long before he was arrested," and that the state witnesses were important to the case. "The accused was not a very good witness... with his contradictions and new versions... at times he wanted to shift blame onto his defence counsel." The judge felt "he was not telling the whole truth" and criticised his failure to produce witnesses to back up his claims.

Professor Gerard Labuschagne, who does investigative psychology for the police, was an important witness. He told the court similarities between the various attacks meant they were "undoubtedly by the same offender." Some of the bodies remain unidentified.

"On the day he was arrested, the accused displayed hatred for women," said judge Kgomo. "He behaved like a psychopath, even showing his manhood to the female police officer. When he met the same policewoman at the station he said, ‘when I come out of here you will be the first person I rape and kill’." In summary, Kgomo said, "[t]he state has proved beyond reasonable doubt the accused’s guilt."

"I didn't do anything," protested Mogale shortly before judgement was handed down. "You know how life is, this is a challenge, I didn’t do any of those things. I don’t even know those women." He has been convicted of rape twice previously.

At sentencing today, Judge Kgomo called Mogale an "evil and perverted murderer and rapist who pose[s] extreme danger to women in society." As well as sixteen life terms for the murders, four extra life terms were handed down for raping some women twice. Each of the three aggravated robberies attracted a fifteen-year sentence, each kidnap produced five years, three years for the theft and fraud charge, three for sexual assault, three for escaping custody and five for attempted murder. All the sentences will run concurrently.

"Sir, there is no way you can be allowed to be out of prison to come into contact with women," Kgomo told Mogale. "I am removing you permanently from society." As Mogale was led away he shouted at the victims' families "[y]ou are also coming, I pray. I will be out soon."