Qumbu courtroom packed as people flock for glimpse of ‘Facebook killer’

Facebook is set to feature as a tool used to romance and then lure women to their death in a serial rape and murder trial in Qumbu.

Facebook is set to feature as a tool used to romance and then lure women to their death in a serial rape and murder trial in Qumbu. Picture FILE

A 28-year-old man appeared in the Qumbu Magistrate’s Court yesterday where he faced four counts of rape, three counts of murder and three counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances. The women were from a string of towns and cities in the Eastern Cape.

The man cannot be named as he is accused of a sexual offence and has not yet been asked to plead.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said yesterday that the incidents took place between September 24 and October 30.

He said the victims were from East London, Alice, Mthatha, Tsolo, Ntabankulu and Mount Fletcher.

The accused, who appeared handcuffed and in leg irons and wearing green shorts, looked relaxed.

The courtroom was filled to capacity.

Those who could not get in, filled the corridors and even the entire courtyard, simply to get a glimpse of the man who had allegedly terrorised Qumbu and, within a space of five weeks, left a trail of three naked bodies of young women who were raped and killed.

The bodies were found in the same vicinity near Qumbu.

One woman, who said she was raped, apparently managed to flee for her life.

Community members and victims’ family at court said the accused was the son of a senior church leader who died recently.

Fatyela said the known victims were Nolonwabo Grey, 27, of Diphini Village in Mooiplaas near East London and Andiswa Buhlungu, 26, from Tsolo. A third body is yet to be identified.

The Grey family had to travel to Mthatha to identify her body after she left East London for Qumbu on October 28.

Esethu Sango, 27, who was at court, said Grey was staying with her at Ziphunzana in East London. She told the Dispatch that her friend had met a man on Facebook.

“Nolonwabo left on October 28. She was posting on Facebook with her last post at around 10pm,” said Sango.

She said a man had sent Grey money for transport.

“When she left, she was happy that she will meet this new romantic guy who is so handsome and charming.”

Sango said that after a terrible ordeal she was later called by police from Mthatha to come and and identify a body.

Grey’s mother, Nothobile, was in tears yesterday.

“I have been praying that I will find my child still alive.

“At the same time I was praying that if this man killed her, I must find her remains so that I can bury her,” said the mother.

Nokhaya Buhlungu, 51, the mother of victim Andiswa, said her daughter was a third-year student at Ingwe FET College in Mount Fletcher.

She said that on October 18 her daughter went to visit her “Facebook boyfriend” in Qumbu and never returned.

She called her daughter and was shocked when the call was picked up by a man and terrible allegations were made.

On Thursday, Andiswa’s body was found decomposed in an open field in Qumbu and was positively identified by the family.

The mothers of both Buhlungu and Grey said that should the accused be found guilty, they wanted him jailed for life.

“This has devastated the entire family. The person who did this to our child, must just rot in jail,” said Buhlungu.

The case has been postponed to November 13 for formal bail application. — lulamilef@dispatch.co.za