News :: Crime

3 South African Men Linked to Murders of 7 Gay Men

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Sunday Nov 18, 2012
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South African police have arrested three men who allegedly murdered a gay man more than a year ago. The trio may also be connected to a gang of robbers who murdered seven other gay men, South Africa’s Independent Online news site reports.

Barney Van Heerden, 39, was one of the eight gay men who were killed in South Africa between April 2010 and February of this year. The authorities are now trying to determine if Maxwell Nyathi, Nthokozisi Ndlovu and Bheki Maseko, who were arrested for Van Heerden’s death, are part of a gang that allegedly murdered the others.

On Wednesday, police told local media that they believed that there was more than one suspect connected to the serial murders. The head of the police’s detective branch in the South African province of Gauteng, Major-General Norman Taioe, said that there are eight detectives working on the cases and they are currently on the lookout for a number of individuals who are allegedly members of the gang.

According to the article, the gang earns their victim’s trust and eventually lurs them into their home, where they then robbed and murdered them.

Police are warning local gay men to be careful. Taioe says gay men should be especially cautious of any partners they do not know and to make sure to tell friends or family where they are if they plan to meet a stranger.

It wasn’t until last week, however, that the authorities admitted that the cases were connected after they revealed there was a common suspect in four of the murders.

While gay rights groups claimed that police were not investigating the crimes as thoroughly as they should, Taioe disagreed and said detectives "care deeply about pursing justice in each of the cases."

The first murder occurred when Manolis Veloudos was found dead in April 2010. In 2011, Jim Cathels, Oscar O’Hara, 33, Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, a 47-year-old unnamed landlord and Barney van Heerden, were killed. In December, Jason Wessenaar, an HIV activist, was murdered in his home and on February 25, Rulov Senekal, a theater manager, was also murdered.

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