By The Polokwane Observer
POLOKWANE: The Limpopo Division of the High Court on Monday and Tuesday heard from a total of nine witnesses who confirmed the chances that Themba Willard Dube could be responsible for murdering seven women from Polokwane, Seshego, Lebowakgomo and Mankweng.
Despite having confessed to the murders previously, the 36 year-old Zimbabwean illegal immigrant pleaded not guilty, except to the contravention of the illegal immigration Act – much to the dismay of supporters and loved ones to the deceased.
The trial commenced on January 16, but after a brief session, was postponed to January 23, to allow the defence to make further representation to the state.
Dube faces, among others, seven charges of kidnapping, seven of rape, seven of murder since August 2021, defeating the ends of justice and entering the country illegally. He has been in custody since October 29, 2021, after an arrest by the Seshego Community Against Crime and Gangsterism organisation and handed over to the Seshego police.
He is accused of killing Sara Mothiba (42), Lesotho national Molebogeng Mothebeli (34), Khomotso Makhura (41), Sanah Senyatsi (34), Andrea Cholo (25), Jane Letswalo (42) and Zimbabwean national Chisimango Gumbo (48).
On Monday, the court heard from five witnesses who testified about the last day they saw three of Dube’s victims. The first witness who stood for cross examination on Monday, Delfiah Molepo, was employed by one of the victims as a stay-in-helper, Mothibeli, who was raped and killed on October 19, 2021.
Molepo said she received a call from her daughter, who also stayed with Mothibeli, at around 17:00 informing her that Mothibeli was not home.
“I knocked off and arrived home around 18:00, and she was still not there. After I phoned her again without any luck, I went to the Polokwane Police Station the same evening to open a missing person’s case. I never saw Mothibeli again until they discovered she was killed,” she said.
The second witness, John Ngubeni, who was the landlord of one of the victims, a Zimbabwean woman, Chisimango Gumbo, also took to the witness stand.
Ngubeni told the court that on September 14, 2021, Dube came to his house where Gumbo was renting a shack, and it seemed as if Gumbo knew him “because of the way she welcomed him”.
He related how the two cooked a meal together, and had left some time around 17:00.
“He returned around 19:00 and I asked him where the lady was. He said he had left her somewhere and that he only returned to fetch her cellphone and charger, but that she would be back soon. That was the last day I had seen her,” Ngubeni explained.
Community members and organisations in their scores camped inside and outside court.
Divine Phofu said it was heartbreaking to see families of the deceased weep, while under the same roof with a man who did not see any wrongdoing even after having confessed to the murders.
“He had the phone of one of the victims in his possession, and says he simply picked it up in the street. How can that be? Our beloved family members are gone and will never return.”