Over the past 10 months four violent murders in which gay men were bound, beaten and strangled to death have police and forensic specialists investigating the possibility that a serial killer, or homophobic group, is stalking Johannesburg, South Africas gay community.
In the first attack in December 2010, Jim Cathels was found at his home in Berea. He had been strangled and bound, and there were no signs of forced entry.
Four months ago, Oscar O’Hara, 33, had been house-sitting in Kensington for friend and author Ivan Vladislavic. He was bound and strangled by an unknown assailant or assailants. His body was discovered a few days later, when the author returned home from the UK.
Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, 36, was killed in a similar manner at his flat in Kliptown, Soweto, on September 11, a week before Van Heerden’s death. One element set his murder apart: his killer(s) poured acid on the body after his death from asphyxiation.
The most recent victim, Barney van Heerden, 39, was found bound and strangled in his Orange Grove home on September 19.
According to the the regional newspaper The Star all four of the victims were said to have internet capability ,and at least two of them had profiles registered on gay dating websites that they used to meet other men.
Welman has warned that those who fit the victim’s profile should remain cautious of inviting strangers into their homes.