Moses Sithole was a South African serial killer and rapist whose murder spree ranged from 1994 to 1995. These massive killings were known as the "ABC Murders," because they had their beginnings in Atteridgeville, South Africa, and spread to Boksburg and Cleveland. He is known by the names the ABC Killer, the South African Strangler, and the Gauteng Killer. He murdered at least 38 women but its believe that he killed more women.
Moses Sithole was born in 1964 in Vosloorus, a poor township near Boksburg, Transvaal Province (now Gauteng). When he was 5, his father died, and his mother abandoned the family. Sithole and his siblings spent the next three years in an orphanage, where he later said they were mistreated. By his own account, Sithole was arrested for rape in his teens and spent seven years in prison. He later blamed his imprisonment for turning him into a murderer. He explained his crimes by saying that the women he murdered all reminded him of the women who had falsely accused him of rape years before.
To the people around him, Sithole appeared to be a mild-mannered individual. At the time of his crimes, he was managing a shell organization, Youth Against Human Abuse, ostensibly devoted to the eradication of child abuse. After a while, Sithole moved his focus to Boksburg and eventually to Cleveland. By 1995, he had claimed over thirty victims, sparking nationwide panic. In some cases, he would later phone the victims' families for no other apparent reason than to taunt them. At one point, President Nelson Mandela visited Boksburg in person to appeal for public assistance in apprehending the killer.
Sithole targeted African women and teenage girls between the ages of 18-45. Most of his victims were interviewing for positions with Sithole's ersatz charity. Sithole would take them to remote fields, and proceeded to beat, rape, and murder them. They were generally strangled with their own underwear. He would then write the word "bitch" on their dead bodies before dumping them. He once raped a victim with a stick. And in another instance, he injured the two-year-old son of one of his victims in the head and left him to die from exposure. The first set of murders took place in the township of Atteridgeville, near Pretoria.
In August 1995, Sithole was identified as having been seen with one of the victims. After SAPS investigators learned details of his previous rape conviction, he disappeared. In October 1995, Sithole contacted South African journalist Tamsen de Beer and identified himself as the wanted murderer. During a phone conversation to de Beer, he indicated that the killings were carried out in revenge for his unjust imprisonment and claimed 76 victims, twice as many as those reported. Finally, in order to prove his identity, Sithole gave directions to where one of the bodies had been left. Local authorities subsequently cornered Sithole in Johannesburg, shooting the suspect when he attacked a constable with a hatchet. Sithole was driven to the hospital, where he was found to be HIV positive.
On 5 December 1997, Sithole was sentenced to fifty years' imprisonment for each of the thirty-eight murders, twelve years' imprisonment for each of the forty rapes, and five years' imprisonment for each of six robberies. Since his sentences run consecutively, the total effective sentence is one of 2,410 years. Justice David Carstairs ordered that Sithole would be required to serve at least 930 years before being eligible for parole. The judge also told Sithole that had capital punishment not been abolished, he would have been sentenced to death. Sithole was incarcerated in C-Max, the maximum security section of Pretoria Central Prison. He is currently incarcerated in Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein.