THE Eastern Cape man who pleaded guilty this week to murdering 20 people said he was sorry.
On Tuesday Bulelani Mabhayi, 39, plead guilty to all 36 charges levelled against him, which include rape and murder.
If convicted, Mabhayi will be the worst serial killer South Africa has seen in over 15 years.
Mabhayi’s home village Tholeni, based in the Butterworth district, became known as South Africa’s “village of death” under his reign of terror.
“Even to the people of Tholeni and to the citizens of South Africa, I would like to say I apologise and I am very sorry for what I did,” he said.
Less than an hour after his apology, however, Mabhayi told the court that had he not been arrested in August 2012, he would still be raping and killing.
State prosecutor Advocate Ndoyisile Lamla grilled Mabhayi on how he chose his victims, asking whether he intentionally chose women-headed households with children.
The ever meek Mabhayi, who mumbled throughout his testimony, answered merely ndiyavuma (that is correct) to most of Lamla’s questions.
His first victim, Nofinish Eslina Mayekiso, attacked Mabhayi with an axe when he first broke into her house. He later returned with his own axe, raped her and hacked her to death in May 2007. She was his oldest victim at 79.
“Why did you rape an elderly woman?”
Mabhayi said as an elderly woman, Mayekiso would be weaker. He killed his victims because they knew him and would be able to identify him, he added.
Lamla asked whether Mabhayi believed his youngest victims, who were little more than a year old, could identify him to other villagers. “They could not do that because they could not know you,” Lamla said.
Lamla put it to Mabhayi that he murdered Ongama Mbeki, “who was one year and two months old”. Exclamations of anger were heard from several women in the packed courtroom.
Mabhayi told the court he killed the child because he was “driven by an evil spirit”.
Lamla asked: “Do you agree with me that there is absolutely no reason why you should kill these children?”
Mabhayi said Lamla was right.
Lamla asked Mabhayi whether he still had value to society, or should be locked away for the rest of his life. He replied he believed he still had value, “because I have learnt from this experience and that what I was doing was not right and unacceptable”.
Lamla was incredulous, telling the court Mabhayi continued his murdering spree up until his arrest in August 2012. “Do you agree that if the police had not arrested you, you would still be raping and killing people of the Tholeni locality?”
Mabhayi answered yes.
Lamla put it to Mabhayi that he could not possibly be sorry for what he had done.
“Do you agree that you are the kind of person who has no respect for human life?”
“Ndiyavuma,” he replied.
Mabhayi has been charged with the murder of 20 women and children and not 23 as originally reported.
Read more on this story at the Daily Dispatch.