Open letter to Police Commissioner Mkhwanazi, Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Minister Jeff Radebe

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There are now seven. Remember these names – because they will be coming back to haunt us. And you.

Manolis Veloudos
Jim Cathels
Oscar O’Hara
Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo
A 47-year-old unnamed landlord
Barney van Heerden (a friend of the writer)
Jason Wassenaar

And now … Thebe Mogamisi, who has been reported missing as from 31 December 2011 (as reported by Behind the Mask). He travelled to Johannesburg from his hometown of Bloemfontein to meet a “Sipho”, whom he has met online. Not to be heard from again.

These men were from all walks of life, and from almost all population groups. They really had only three things in common: they were gay, they were active on gay online dating sites and it seems that they were friendly towards or knew their attacker.

Oh, there is another thing that the first six (and most probably the seventh, Thebe) have in common. They are dead. Murdered.

Now I have been in the law for two decades. I have been involved in many true-life horror cases – like the notorious “Kaalvoet Thysie”-case of the nineties, in which that murder accused was also alleged to have assassinated Prof Johan Heyns. I followed many cases through the years in the newspapers and on the internet. I have studied many murder cases – and serial murders as well.  

I know in my gut when I smell a rat. And I smell a big one. A big, dead, rotting carcass – and it has a name: Police ineptitude.

In any police force anywhere in the world that can call itself something resembling “effective”, alarm bells would have been ringing. Loudly.

But not in South Africa. No, here it is dismissed with an obnoxious “it is not related”. My god! How do you know? How do you know if a proper task team has not been appointed? When proper forensic investigations were not done? When a case with so many similarities to another six unsolved murders is buried among thousands of other “missing persons” reports in Bloemfontein? When the six different investigating officers have not met even once? When a seventh, in Thebe’s case, has probably not even been appointed yet? When we have to hear about it from the media – who, like the commendable The Star – are doing the investigation work?

The facts are screaming at you – you, Commissioner and you, Ministers!


I am angry, yes. I am upset. I feel like screaming it from the rooftops. I feel like busting your security and your motor cavalcades and shoving their photos in your faces.

But I will not. It will not solve anything. I will try to calm down and ask the commissioner and the ministers again: act.


Coenie Kukkuk

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