The number of women killed and their bodies dumped in cane fields at Mthwalume, KwaZulu-Natal has risen to six, sparking fears that a serial killer is operating in the area.
This follows the discovery of yet another body in the area on Wednesday, reports South Coast Herald.
The murders appear to be escalating, with the body of the latest victim, Zama Chiliza, being retrieved from bushes in the Mathisini area on Tuesday.
According to relatives, the 38-year-old had been on her way home from the clinic when she disappeared.
“She was found with her bag containing her clinic cards,” a relative said.
The bodies of sisters Nosipho, 16, and Akhona Gumede, 25, were found near Mthwalume on April 25.
The sisters had left their home in the Mgwaba area without informing anyone. They were reported missing on March 28 when all attempts to contact them had failed.
The body of 23-year-old Baja Duma, who had been reported missing on June 28, was found nearby on July 6.
The community fears another serial killer is on the loose, reminiscent of “Sugarcane Killer” Thozamile Taki, who was convicted of murdering 13 women in 2010. Taki dumped the bodies of his victims in the sugarcane fields of Umzinto.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has called for urgent police intervention at national level.
The party said it was unfortunate that as a community, all means of trying to work with Hibberdene police have been exhausted, resulting in arrests during protest action against the murders.
IFP spokesperson Sfundo Ngwane said the community had lost hope as no arrests had been made yet.
“The IFP condemns the killing and abuse of our women in the strongest terms. We cannot allow our women to live in fear.”
He added that local men had even volunteered to patrol the area at night, as long as they got the nod from police.
“We bow our heads in shame that our women are killed in a month where they are supposed to celebrate their womanhood,” said Ngwane.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said an inquest docket had been opened at Hibberdene police station for investigation.
Mbhele told The Citizen on Wednesday that allegations of a serial killer operating in the area cannot be confirmed, as there is not currently enough evidence to support this.
Updates to follow as more information is made available.