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South African Criminals

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  • Barend Smartryk Johannes Jacobus Jansen van Rensburg (1898 - 1923)
    Barend Van Rensburg (23), a tuber on the railways at Upington (map), was married to Rachel de Kock (22). He married her because she was pregnant and he feared moral scandal might lose him his job. Howe...
  • Pierre Corneille Faculys Basson, b1c2d6e9f7g1h1 (b. - 1906)
    PIERRE BASSON: 1903 Pierre Corneille Faculys Basson was posthumously convicted of murder in 1906. He was described by Inspector Easton, the police officer who went to investigate his death, as 'a scoun...
  • David Brettland Urbasch (1963 - 2007)
    The Pierneef work stolen in 2006 from the SABC building is valued at R4million and has not been recoved. - See more at: Thief burns stolen Pierneef December 19 2006 at 12:00pm A thief has burnt t...
  • George St Leger Gordon Lennox (1) (1845 - 1919)
    Graf Microfilm #1295252 Matrimonial Court Minutes Upington/Gordonia Marriage Affidavits Item 4: 1903-1910 Husband: George St. Leger LENNOX, Bachelor, Farmer, residing Lentlands farm, district of ...
  • Daisy Louisa de Melker (1886 - 1932)
    Daisy de Melker was a trained nurse who poisoned two husbands with strychnine for their life insurance while living in Germiston in the central Transvaal (now Gauteng), and then poisoned her only son...

This aim of the project is the research of Infamous South African Criminals.

Serial Killers

South Africans convicted of multiple murders. As of October 2014 South Africa had 160 recorded serial killers since 1950.

  • Moses Sithole is known as South Africa’s most evil serial killer. Sithole committed 38 murders and raped 40 women in 1995. His MO was raping, then tying up and strangling his victims with their own underwear. After the first four victims were found murdered in this way, the police declared that a serial killer was on the loose. A special task force was established to try and capture the killer. It was only after 34 more victims’ bodies were found that Sithole was finally brought to justice.
  • Jack Mogale Between 2008 and 2009, a spate of killings on the outskirts of Johannesburg had people locking their doors early in the evenings and making sure not to stay outdoors after dusk.No one could’ve guessed that the murders would eventually be attributed to a man working as a preacher. Or at least, he pretended to be a preacher. Jack Mogale’s last crime was the brutal beating and repeated raping of a young teenage girl. After committing the despicable acts against the girl, Mogale left her for dead. Fortunately, the teenager regained consciousness the next day and was able to get help. Mogale was arrested shortly afterward. When police dragged him out of his shack, he protested violently and even tried to urinate on one of the officers.
  • Bulelani Mabhayi Known as the “Monster of Tholeni,” Bulelani Mabhayi stalked his victims in a rural area of the Eastern Cape. He raped and mutilated a total of 20 women and children before beating or hacking them to death. Different to Zikode, Mabhayi made sure that he targeted women who had no male partners to protect or help them.
  • Christopher Mhlengwa Zikode murdered eight people in the KwaZulu-Natal province, before justice finally caught up to him. Zikode had no problem forcing his way into a family home and killing all the men inside before raping the women. He also had no problem shooting the women who protested vehemently against being raped, then having sex with their corpses.
  • David Randitsheni was a serial rapist and killer convicted of 10 murders and 17 rapes in 2009. Most of his crimes involved children. He raped and murdered his victims between 2004 and 2008, in the area of Limpopo.
  • Louis van Schoor took the term “trigger happy” to a whole new level. Starting his career out as a police officer and ending up as a security guard, van Schoor was convicted of seven murders in 1992. Before his conviction, it was thought that he killed as many as 39 people. He even admitted to shooting 100 people after setting traps for them in the form of silent alarms. He was known as an apartheid killer, since he only murdered black victims.
  • Gert van Rooyen Just about everyone in South Africa knows about the serial killer and pedophile Gert van Rooyen. Mothers still relate the horrific story to their daughters when teaching them to stay away from strangers.Van Rooyen’s violent crime spree began in 1979, when he kidnapped two young girls. Between 1988 and 1990, Gert van Rooyen and Joey Haarhof managed to get five young girls into their home. The girls were never seen or heard from again.In 1990, Haarhof decided to abduct Joan Booysen, who was 16 at the time. Luckily, Joan managed to escape, even after being drugged and sexually assaulted. After Booysen alerted the police, they placed the house of van Rooyen and Haarhof under surveillance. When Gert van Rooyen became aware of this, he saw no way out other than shooting his lover and then himself.
  • Petrus Madiba not only murdered eight women and a baby, he also put the blame for his horrific crimes on them. For each murder he had a different story. First, he claimed that six of the women were in a relationship with him at some point. He admitted to killing all eight women but said it was because they either stole from him or cheated on him.
  • Stewart Wilken Studies show that serial killers actively target a certain type of victim. What makes Stewart Wilken a chillingly interesting case is that he chose two types of victims: female prostitutes and young boys. Wilken confessed to murdering at least 10 victims, including his daughter and Henry Bakers. Wilken was sentenced to seven life terms behind bars.
  • Pierre Basson Known as South Africa’s first serial killer, Pierre Basson started acting out his violent fantasies on animals when he was just a young boy. At the age of 12, he needed something more to satisfy his sadistic nature, so he viciously attacked another boy with a knife. After that incident, Pierre appeared to calm down for a few years. However, shortly after his father’s death, 18-year-old Basson took out a life insurance policy on his little brother Jasper. He then invited Jasper to go fishing with him on February 3, 1903. Pierre Basson returned alone.
  • Daisy de Melker was a trained nurse who poisoned two husbands with strychnine for their life insurance while living in Germiston in the central Transvaal (now Gauteng), and then poisoned her only son with arsenic for reasons which are still unclear. She is historically the second woman to have been hanged in South Africa.
  • Gamal Salie Lineveldt was a young, coloured labourer who sexually assaulted and murdered 4 white women in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town during the 1940's. On 3 October 1940, he attacked 40 year-old Ethel Marais off Brockhurst Road, Lansdowne. She survived the attack, but passed away 2 days later. On 22 October 1940, 49 year-old Dorothy Tarling was attacked in her house on Prince George Drive in Wynberg. She didn't survive and was discovered by her domestic worker the next morning. On 11 November 1940, 28 year-old Eva Bird was attacked while doing washing in front of her house in Wetton Road, Lansdowne and dragged into nearby bushes. A delivery man stumbled on the attack, but not soon enough to save Eva's life. The fourth and final victim was 44 year-old Mary Hoets who he attacked and killed on 25 November 1940 with an axe at her house in Thornhill Road, Rondebosch. Only in 1941, after Lineveldt molested another woman and a nearby witness was able to identify him, the Police was able to arrest him on 16 March 1941. He was tried on 10 June 1941, found guilty on 4 accounts of murder and swiftly sentenced to death. He was hanged in 1942.


South Africans convicted of murder:

  • Clive John Derby-Lewis (born 22 January 1936) is a South African ex-politician, who was involved first in the National Party and then, while serving as a Member of Parliament, in the Conservative Party. He is serving a life sentence for his role in the assassination of South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani. He has repeatedly been denied parole since he began applying in 2010, and as of July 2014 has another application pending. Clive maintained the killing was politically motivated but was denied pardon by the TRC.
  • Marlene Lehnberg (born c. 1957) is a South African murderer more commonly known as The Scissor Murderess. She was 18 years old in 1974, when she and hired killer Marthinus Choegoe stabbed Susanna Magdalena van der Linde, the wife of her 47-year old lover, Christiaan van der Linde, to death with a pair of scissors. At 19, she was the youngest woman to be convicted of murder in South Africa until a 14-year old Durban girl was found guilty of plotting the murder of her grandmother in 2004. Both Lehnberg and Marthinus Choegoe received the death penalty, but this was later set aside and she served 11 years of her 20 year sentence, in Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town.
  • Donovan Moodley appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on charges of murder of Leigh Matthews, kidnapping and extortion. On 25 July 2005, he pleaded guilty to all three charges in the Johannesburg High Court. Judge Joop Labuschagne found him guilty as charged, but ruled he had not acted alone in his judgement.
  • Maria Magdalena Buys / Groesbeek nee Deysel ( TAB MHG 2398/70 ) was born on 9 Feb 1936 in the Schweizer-Reneke district in the North West province. She was one of six children. Maria and Christian (Chris) Stephanus Buys ( TAB MHG 1788/70 ) were married 11 July 1953 ( Huwelik / Marriage ). Maria was 17 years old. During their seventeen years of marriage they lived with Buys' mother and six brothers for seven years, after which they moved house fourteen times. Gerhard Groesbeek claims that Buys constantly accused her of flirting with other men and used this as an excuse to beat her. Desperately unhappy, she met and fell in love with Buys' friend, Gerhard Groesbeek, a 20 year old railway worker. Wanting to marry him, she asked her husband for a divorce. When he refused, Maria laced his food with arsenic. Ten weeks after murdering her husband, she married Gerhard Groesbeek. Upon her arrest, Maria Magdalena Groesbeek admitted to murdering her husband, stating that she wanted revenge for his refusal to grant her a divorce.On 10 December 1969, Maria Groesbeek was found guilty. Maria Magdalena Groesbeek was executed on 13 November 1970 at the age of 33. More Info ; Grave of Maria Magdalena Buys


South Africans convicted of robbery:

  • Andre Stander (1946 – 13 February 1984) was a police captain at the CID branch of Kempton Park Police Station, South Africa, who began robbing banks in the 1970s and later became known in popular media as the head of the "Stander Gang" in the early 1980s. His father, Frans Stander, was a general in the South African Department of Correctional Services. Andre became well known for the audacious manner with which he carried out his crimes: He sometimes robbed banks on his lunch break, often returning to the crime scene as an investigating officer
  • Scotty Smith In the words of Lawrence G. Green, “Wildest of all the reckless men who rode the Kalahari frontier was Scotty Smith. Every country has its Robin Hood, Dick Turpin or Captain Starlight – highwaymen of varying degrees of courtesy and crime. Scotty Smith was South Africa’s most notorious outlaw for many years, a legendary figure whose exploits live after him.”
  • Tommy Dennison In 1912 the 2nd Zeederberg Coach robbery took place on Pilgrims Hill. The Highwayman was Tommy Dennison. Dennison had come out to South Africa as a private during the Anglo Boer War. He was a bugler and despatch rider for the Earl of Athlone and was discharged after being wounded on active duty. He somehow found his way to Pilgrims Rest and started work as a barber. A more efficient barber put him out of business so he employed some black women and started a laundry service. It was during this time that he thought up the idea of robbing the coach obviously inspired by the success of the 1st robbery.
  • David Brettland Urbasch became nervous and burnt the Pierneef painting he stole from the SABC in Auckland Park, he destroyed the artwork in a panic after unsuccessfully trying to find a buyer, David Brettland Urbasch, 43, told the police in a statement in which he admitted to stealing the oil painting. The rare, 2,75m x 1,8m painting was worth an estimated R3-million. He committed suicide in prison in 2007.

Drug Traffickers

South Africans convicted of drug-related crimes both in South Africa and overseas:

  • Sheryl Cwele is a Municipal Official on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. She is recently divorced from State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele. Sheryl was arrested and charged in 2009 by the Hawks over her alleged role in the recruitment of drug mules for an international drug-trafficking ring. In May 2011 she was found guilty of drug trafficking by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court.
  • Glenn Agliotti was arrested in connection with the murder of Brett Kebble. Agliotti, a convicted drug-dealer, is a close personal friend of former South African Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi. Agliotti is alleged to have strong links with organised crime and racketeering


  • William Robert Clem Foster Leader of The Foster gang was a group of criminals who operated in South Africa, around Johannesburg and the Rand, between the months of July and September 1914, committing various acts of robbery and murder. The gang consisted of four persons: the leader William Foster, his wife Peggy Foster, John Maxim and Carl Mezar. After a stand off with the police, the gang members and Foster's wife all committed suicide
  • Rashied Staggie is a former gang leader in Cape Town, South Africa. His twin brother, Rashaad Staggie, was leader of the Hard Livings gang who was killed after being shot and burned alive in Salt River, Cape Town in 1996 by members of the vigilante group PAGAD.


South Africans convicted of fraud:

  • Schabir Shaik is a South African businessman from the Berea, Durban, who rose to prominence due to his close association with South African President Jacob Zuma during his time as Deputy President. On 2 June 2005, he was found guilty of corruption and fraud, which also led to his dismissal by Zuma two weeks later from his position as Deputy President.


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