An expert has questioned police's handling of the case, saying the serial rapist's victim list may be far longer than currently suspected.
The South African Police Service (Saps) has nothing to celebrate following the arrest of alleged serial rapist Nkosinathi Phakade, with top forensic psychologist, Dr Gerard Labuschagne saying they should, in fact, be ashamed at their own inefficiency which allowed him rack up nearly 100 victims.
“Police have tough questions to answer,” Labuschagne said.
“Why did it take them so long to arrest him? It is not like it was a difficult case. He operated in a small area and not across the country. For years this case has been investigated as a serial but they failed to catch him. Why?” he asked.
Phakade, one of Gauteng’s most wanted serial rapists, has been positively linked to 68 rape cases in Ekurhuleni over nearly a decade, including that of a 12 year old. Phakade was arrested in March 2021, after he had returned to a previous victim in Etwatwa, and attempted to rape her again, using the same modus operandi.
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He had apparently raped so many women that he had forgotten his victim, who managed to identify him and called the police. This led to his arrest the following day, during which he was shot while trying to escape.
“He was not arrested by the police. It was the victim who was about to be attacked for the second time who called the police to catch him.”
Labuschagne said Phakade had probably raped more women, because only one out of 20 rape incidents are reported to the police.
“So to get the correct number of how many people he has raped, you have to multiply the current figure,” Labuschagne, who is also a former police forensic psychologist, said.
Police believe DNA could positively link him to at least 40 more cases.
Labuschagne said in over 300 serial rape cases he has investigated, no offenders had taken this long to be caught, and he doubted whether police applied the principles of the policy on rape investigations adopted in 2016.
According to Labuschagne, among the key principles of the policy was to form a dedicated task team of experts in serial sexual violence investigations.
Phakade, whose modus operandi was posing as a municipal official taking meter readings, appeared in absentia in the Daveyton Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe refused to answer questions on how Phakade managed to evade justice for so long.
“We are not commenting further on the case. Let’s wait for the suspect’s appearance on the 27th May…,” she said in a text message.
But Major-General Bafana Linda, national head for Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations, told CapeTalk that rape cases were complex.
He said rape cases happened “behind closed doors, in dark alleys, and without witnesses”.
“Perpetrators also used different tactics to lure their victims, which makes such cases complicated,” he said.