DETECTIVES hunting a serial rapist whose crime wave spread terror in a populous Bulawayo suburb have arrested a 41-year-old soldier.
Police have charged Dumisani Mpofu, a soldier attached to the Signal Squadron at Llewellin Barracks, with four counts of rape, but detectives fear there could be as many as 10 victims in and around Nkulumane suburb.
Two of his alleged victims were aged 15 and 16, Bulawayo magistrate Shepherd Munjanja heard on Monday.
Mpofu, of House Number 568, Emganwini, will return to the regional courts on Thursday for the start of his trial on two counts of rape involving juveniles, and one of robbery after he allegedly stole a mobile phone from one of his victims.
On the other two counts of rape involving a 38-year-old and 21-year-old woman, Mpofu was remanded to appear at the Western Commonage Magistrates’ Court on April 21 for a routine remand.
Prosecuting, Fiona Ncube-Denhere said Mpofu’s year-long reign of terror began on April 5 last year and was brought to a stop following his arrest on April 2 this month.
The first attack on the 38-year-old woman, said the prosecutor, was carried out with the help of a second man who is still at large.
“They approached the victim in Nkulumane and identified themselves as police officers from Tshabalala Police Station,” Ncube-Denhere told the court.
“They then led her in the direction of the police station. Along the way, they lifted her and carried her into a field where they put her on the ground. Mpofu knelt on her chest and went on to rape her.”
Following the attack, the court heard, the two men released the woman but followed her at some distance for a while. She reported the attack a day later.
A month later, on May 7, a 15-year-old girl had just walked her sister to a bus stop at Munyoro shopping centre, also in Nkulumane, and was walking back home when she was accosted by Mpofu who again claimed to be a police officer.
“He told her she was under arrest for prostitution,” the prosecutor said. “He started walking her in the direction of Nkulumane Police Station but changed the route to walk through a wooded area where he stripped her naked before raping her once at gun and knifepoint.”
The girl told her mother of her ordeal and police were called in.
On July 28, just after 9.20PM, prosecutors say Mpofu struck again – his victim this time a 21-year-old woman walking from the Munyoro area to the adjoining Tshabalala suburb.
As before, Mpofu allegedly claimed to be a CID officer and told his victim, she was under arrest for “loitering”.
“He slapped her once in the face and led her towards Tshabalala under the pretext that he was taking her to the police station. Along the way, Mpofu dragged her into the bush and raped her,” the prosecutor said.
Mpofu allegedly fled the scene and his victim walked to a road nearby where she flagged down a police patrol. A police search failed to find the suspect.
On April 2, this month, prosecutors say Mpofu was back on the prowl near Munyoro – his victim this time a 16-year-old girl who was returning from the shops just after 8PM.
“He stopped her under the pretext that he was looking for houses starting with 10 and as she was trying to be helpful, he advanced towards her and identified himself as a detective. He allegedly clapped her twice and told her that she was under arrest for loitering,” the prosecutor said.
Mpofu allegedly handcuffed his victim and pretended to be taking her to Nkulumane Police Station. But halfway there, he allegedly dragged her into the bush, raped her and took her mobile phone before fleeing the scene.
She walked home where she narrated her ordeal to her brother who called the police.
Police swarmed the neighbourhood and finally arrested Mpofu not far from Munyoro. The mobile phone was recovered and all four women later picked out Mpofu at an identification parade.
Detectives fear some victims were to scared or too ashamed to come forward, but expect them to come out now that Mpofu cannot hurt them.