A 21-year-old South African man accused of murdering six sex workers – including one who was pregnant, has additionally been charged with rape. According to Eyewitness News, Sifiso Mkhwanazi was arrested and charged in connection with the killings last October after authorities found the victims’ decomposed bodies at a workshop owned by his father.
Mkhwanazi appeared before the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Prosecutors had initially told the court they were prepared to transfer the 21-year-old suspect’s trial to a high court, however, prosecutor Tshepo Mahange kaMzizi notified the court they had additional details on the case.
“There is a matter which is not a part of this prison case that the directive from the director of Public Prosecutions in the south is asking that we also pursue – which is a matter of Sexual Offenses Act which happened prior to the events of this present situation of the six dead bodies,” kaMzizi said.
kaMzizi also said they will review Mkhwanazi’s rape docket and likely add it to his murder trial. The 21-year-old was initially accused of killing one of the six sex workers, however, Eyewitness News reported he has since been charged in connection with the five other murders. The suspect’s trial has been adjourned to August.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against women. Per the National Institute of Health, “South Africa is considered to be the rape capital of the world with 10 818 rape cases reported in the first quarter of 2022.”
The institute also states that the “rate at which women are killed by intimate partners in this country is five times higher than the global average.”
Cesvi also states that 40% of men in South Africa have “beaten their partners and one in four has committed sexual crimes.” “Even if only 2% leads to charges being laid, violence against women is a growing phenomenon and as many as one woman in four has undergone beatings or abuse,” Cesvi adds.
The organization said poverty was the main cause of the staggering rate of violence against women in the country.