By Mashudu Netsianda
An alleged serial killer dubbed the “Underwear Robber” for stealing his victims’ clothes and forcing them to walk naked, appeared in court yesterday for allegedly killing four people and robbing them of their cellphones and money.
Birthwell Sibanda (25) of Pumula South in Bulawayo is already serving a 25-year jail term for 10 counts of armed robbery following his conviction by regional magistrate, Mr Trynos Utahwashe, in February 2015.
Sibanda had also been charged with three counts of rape, but they were dropped after the magistrate ruled that the evidence against him was weak.
During his reign of terror around the city, Sibanda and his accomplices who are still at large, robbed victims of their cellphones, clothing, including underwear, and then made them walk away stark naked.
Sibanda yesterday appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese facing four counts of murder in connection with the death of Henry Moyo (21), Mfundisi Makhalima (23), Mthabisi Dube (20) and his girlfriend Lokukhanya Ncube (19) between April and May 2014.
Prosecuting, Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu said on April 20, 2014, Mthabisi visited his girlfriend Lokukhanya at her place of residence in Nkulumane 12 suburb. On the same day at around 8PM, Mthabisi decided to leave and Lokukhanya walked him out of the house.
“Lokukhanya accompanied her boyfriend to the bus stop where he intended to board a lift to his home in Rangemore,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The court heard that when Lokukhanya and Mthabisi approached the intersection between Rangemore and Intemba roads, Sibanda, who was in the company of his accomplices, Thabani Lunga and Webster Ndlovu, confronted the two lovers.
“Acting in common purpose, Sibanda and his accomplices accosted the two deceased persons. They removed Mthabisi’s shoe laces and tied his hands and legs. They ordered Lokukhanya to remove her clothes and used them to tie her,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the accused person and his accomplices stabbed the two lovers several times all over their bodies before robbing them of Nokia cellphones. They dumped the two bodies in a drainage trench and fled.
The couple’s bodies were found in an advanced state of decomposition in a grass-filled trench at the corner of Intemba and Rangemore Roads in Nkulumane 12.
“On May 1, 2014 at around 6PM, Henry Moyo and his brothers Colleen and Elvis left Egodini Bus Terminus, boarded a commuter omnibus and proceeded to the intersection of Masiyephambili and Luveve Roads where they intended to look for transport to Nyamandlovu,” said Mr Ndlovu.
On their way to the bus stop, Moyo decided to branch off to relieve himself. Colleen and Elvis were spotted by Sibanda and his accomplices.
The accused person and his accomplices confronted the two brothers, wrestled with them before they searched their pockets and took a Nokia cellphone and US$5.
“When Henry saw his brothers being attacked by the accused persons, he picked a stone and struck one of Sibanda’s accomplices. Colleen and Elvis managed to escape during which the accused person and his friends went after Henry and fatally stabbed him with knives,” said Mr Ndlovu. His body was discovered on the following day near Zulukandaba Primary School.
Seven days later, Sibanda and accomplices spotted Makhalima and his friends Sympathy Siziba and Cephas Chirongoma waiting for a lift along Hyde Park Road at around midnight. The accused persons, who were travelling in a Honda Ballade, offered them a lift.
When Siziba got into the car and sat at the back seat, Makhalima tried to pull her out during which he was indiscriminately stabbed by the accused person.
Chirongoma tried to intervene and he was also stabbed on the shoulders before he managed to escape leaving Makhalima at the mercy of his assailants.
After committing the offence, Sibanda and his accomplices drove off leaving Makhalima lying in a pool of blood. Makhalima’s body was discovered on the following morning.
A report was made leading to the arrest of Sibanda.
One of the key witnesses yesterday, who cannot be named for ethical reasons, took to the witness stand and narrated how the accused person and his accomplices attacked Makhalima before taking turns to rape her.
She told the court that the accused person had unprotected sex with her that resulted in her contracting HIV.
“I had to be admitted to hospital for two weeks after falling sick as a result of the rape. On the day they raped me, I took a closer look at their faces and that is why I managed to recognise Sibanda when I was asked to come for an identification parade,” said the witness.
Chirongoma said he suffered injuries on the shoulders after the attack and had to be hospitalised at Mpilo Central Hospital for two weeks.
The trial continues today with six more witnesses, among them three police officers, expected to testify. The Chronicle