Ask Gogo Lizzy Masuku (73) of Mpumalanga, why her vegetables do not match the quality of her young neighbour's; she would tell you, because he uses a tractor, but that is not so. As weird as it is, her neighbour uses human bodies as manure.
Julius Mndawe, the so-called Masoyi Monster, made news not for his thriving horticulture, but for the wrong reasons, arrested for the rape and murder of five young women, aged between 15 and 24, in Mpumalanga.
For 12 months or so women in Masoyi and the neighbouring village of Numbi have been under siege as if were rodents within the reach of a bird of prey.
Mndawe (25) recently shocked the community when he pleaded guilty of murdering Banele Khoza, Nomthandazo Mdluli, Noxolo Mdluli, Felicia Ndlhovu and Tokkie Tlaka, and buried the bodies in his garden and under his house.
He took police to his home in Masoyi and showed them where he had buried the bodies.
This left Gogo Lizzy spine chillingly shocked not only for sharing a fence boundary with a suspected serial killer whom she treated as a son. But also because at one time she had entrusted him to take care of her grandchildren aged between 9 and 14, while she was away at church, because she thought he was a good person.
“We both love growing vegetables. He really took good care of his vegetables. He’d even give me fertiliser.
“I didn’t know I was growing my plants next to dead bodies. I was so shocked I even had to go to the clinic because my blood pressure shot up,” says Gogo Lizzy in disbelief, to a person she witnessed grow into a young man.
Gogo Lizzy knew his mother by both sight and name, who at one time told her that she should report him to them, if he becomes troublesome to her. However, Gogo Lizzy always opted to talk to him as a son and give him advice rather than reporting him to his parents.
She recalls how at one time, she gave him a talk when he played loud music in the dead of the night.
“I pleaded with him several times to turn it down, especially at night, but he didn’t. He didn’t argue with me either. He just turned back and left me standing there. That boy had a thing for loud music,” Gogo Lizzy who is now convinced the loud music was to used to drown any screams from his prey tells a local publication.
Mob justice was administered as Mndawe’s three-roomed house was allegedly set ablaze, by angry community members following the discovery of the young women’s bodies. An uncalled for scenario, that destroyed evidence and put investigations in jeopardy.
Though Gogo Lizzy viewed Mndawe bit of a womaniser, she can’t believe he was a killer who would unsuspiciously bury women’s bodies under just within her vicinity.
“I watched as girls went in and out of his house. I would see them wash his clothes and clean his house. Sometimes it would be two girls at the same time,” she tells Times Live.
Mndawe was good at deceiving people playing a good and well mannered young man. His friend Bernard Mashaba describes him as a good guy who would go to work, tend his garden, but confesses he had a weakness for women.
Mndawe reportedly admitted to committing a series of killings after he was apprehended by police last month and charged with the murder of 24-year-old Tokkie, who is believed to have been his last victim.
According to reports, Nomthandazo (18) and Felicia (19) close friends – were found buried beneath the floor of an extra room Mndawe was building, while the bodies of Banele (15), Noxolo (19) and Tokkie were hidden in the garden.
Bernard is still in shock after the horror and monstrous discovery.
Another friend of his, Vusi Mnisi (30), believes Mndawe was now being haunted by the souls of the women he gruesomely murdered couldn’t live with his secrets anymore.
The three friends would sit and enjoy drinks at Mndawe’s house, but surprisingly, there was no foul smell, or any other of some sort to raise suspicion of foul play. He was good at covering his tracks, however, crime does not pay, sooner or later, the long arm of justice will always prevail.
Tokkie's sister Gladness was convinced that something was amiss when she could not hear from her in a while, after Tokkie who had a 4 year old daughter had gone out on 10 May and never returned back home.
She lodged a missing person report with the Masoyi police, who tracked Tokkie’s cellphone, that led them to Mndawe’s house, whom she had known each for only three days.
The fact that the alleged killer has been arrested and faces life imprisonment is little consolation for Gladness, who were born only two girls in a family of five. She would have loved to see him being hanged.
Another victim’s family says August marks 12 months since they last saw Noxolo, who was doing matrics at Mshadza Secondary School when she went missing.
Her mother, Thembisile Mdluli, says at first she wasn’t worried when her daughter didn’t come home as she was used to her sleeping out for days at her friends' houses, but then they would call each other every day. It is when the calls stopped, and she got a text message from Noxolo asking her mother not to call her, when suspected something had gone wrong with her daughter.
She filed a missing person report with police but says no action was taken. Restless, Thembisile then wrote to SABC1’s Khumbul’ekhaya with wishes to ever find her only daughter, only to learn about her fate recently. Amid a lot of unanswered questions.