Serial killer guilty of 13 murders

A South African serial killer has been convicted of murdering 13 women and dumping their bodies in sugarcane plantations around the country, prosecutors said Thursday.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A South African serial killer has been convicted of murdering 13 women and dumping their bodies in sugarcane plantations around the country, prosecutors said Thursday.

The 36-year-old man lured women into sugarcane fields in South Africa’s eastern KwaZulu-Natal province under the pretences of offering employment.

Doctors could not determine how he killed the women, aged 22 to 35, because their bodies had decomposed in the fields when they were found in 2007, said Natasha Ramkisson, regional spokeswoman for the National Prosecuting Authority.

“We don’t know what his sentence is yet, but we’re glad that justice seems to be taking its course,” Ramkisson said.

The magistrate found Thozamile Taki guilty on all 26 charges, including murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, said Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesman for South Africa’s national prosecuting office.

Taki, with seven other prisoners, tried to escape from prison in March, but fell through a ceiling and was hospitalized.

Taki’s then-girlfriend and co-accused Hlengiwe Nene, who has also been held in custody since 2007, was found not guilty. She was accused of taking the victims’ clothing and possessions after their murders.

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates of any country. There were 18,148 murders in South Africa between April 2008 and March 2009 — about 50 per day — according to police.

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