The monster who terrorised Tholeni

Local documentary The Monster Among Us sheds new light on the horrifying events that left more than 20 people dead in the rural Eastern Cape village of Tholeni.

Tholeni was once a peaceful village in the rural Eastern Cape, but that all changed in a horrific way in 2008, when Tholeni suddenly became known as “the village of death”. Now a new South African documentary tells the story of a serial killer and his attacks and shows, through police records and interviews with experts and investigators, how the murderer was eventually caught and brought to justice.

A serial killer on the loose

In Tholeni, about 15km from Butterworth along the N2 between East London and Mthatha, an unknown serial killer was breaking into homes at night and attacking innocent people, all women and children. Neither the frightened residents of the village nor the police had any idea who was terrorising their community – or what the motive was.

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It took two years for the police to finally admit that they were dealing with a serial killer, following the brutal murder in June 2010 of Sinazo Mbeki and her two grandchildren. With these additional three murders, eight people had by then died at the hands of the same serial killer, while the police remained baffled.

Bringing in the heavy hitters

Captain Aaron Hanise was brought in, along with a team of detectives, to try and crack the case. They even put up a reward of R250 000 for any information that would lead to an arrest and conviction.

DNA samples were collected from residents with previous rape convictions and the police even did a surprise round-up operation of all men over 16 in the area. Every one of them had their DNA and fingerprints taken and checked. And still, there was no suspect to be found …

The shocking killings in Tholeni continued for another year until, at last, the murderer made one small mistake on 11 August 2012, leaving an incriminating clue behind at the scene of yet another victim’s murder …

Who was ultimately responsible?

Watch The Monster Among Us on Crime + Investigation (170) to find out