Mbabane: Africa’s remaining absolute monarch the Kingdom of Eswatini’s Correctional Services (HMCS) has issued that convicted serial killer David Simelane shows no interest of the prisons’ program called Offender-Victim-Dialogue. Simelane killed 43 women plus children and dumped them in various parts of country’s forests in remote areas. He was arrested in 2001 after an intense manhunt conducted by both members of the public and the police.
As many other African countries the Correctional Services of Eswatini through the organisation’s social welfare department offers the opportunity for convicted prisoners to sit and talk to victims of offenders or their relatives, seeking forgiveness in a program called Victim-Dialogue-Offender Mediation.
“David killed a lot of women plus children so it’d be left to be seen how he could engage all his victims, which might be the reason why he is indifferent to this part of the welfare program,” said the prison’s Deputy Spokesperson Sabelo Sibiya. David’s fate in prison is way different from all the prisoners as he will spend the rest of his life in jail. The purpose of the program is not only to reunite ex-convicts to society on completion of their sentences but to find inner peace while serving sentences which would render the hostile environment of jail a little bearable. The fact of David’s own family not wanting to have anything to do with him could be another contributing factor and his despondency could arise from such. “Imagine how it would feel as a prisoner not to be forgiven by your own family?” asked Sibiya, saying in relation to family other things might matter less. He said rejection breeds hopelessness and anyone like that is as good as dead.
In some cases some prisoners needn’t only to seek forgiveness but must observe restitution. Restitution is an act of bringing back or restoring what was lost during a criminal deed. Sibiya said prisoners have to their disposal social welfare officers as well as psychologists deployed by the organisation who routinely sit with prisoners and address issues of reintegration to society. Social welfare officers are often the first to bring up the issue of the need to talk to victims but the buck rests with the prisoner.
If a prisoners are not interested in engaging victims for reasons known to them there is nothing that the organisation can do, said the prisons’ mouthpiece. However, some prisoners out of a guilty conscious do bring up the subject of talking to their victims or their relatives and seek a reunion. In that case officers would then have the task of going to the victims families’ and talk about the prisoner’s wish to engage the victims. He said they encourage offenders to make peace with their victims as part of their rehabilitative and restorative program but that is where they end. They do not impose it on the prisoners lest they violate one of their rights, which is to not talk to anyone if they so wish.
As during the trial, nine years later, David Simelane is stone cold and shows no remorse for his actions. He neither brings the subject up nor seeks to see the victims’ remaining relatives. Throughout the trial Simelane showed no remorse nor did he apologise during mitigation in plea.
Simelane lured the women by promising them jobs and taking them to forests where he murdered them allegedly by strangulation and stabbing. Inkling on the part of society was that in view of how he carried out his diabolic transaction he could not be alone but his testimony showed no evidence of the implication of others. Key witnesses in the mass murder case were senior crack detectives Khethokwakhe Ndlangamandla and Jomo Mavuso who died before Simelane was convicted. The final submissions of the case were done by the late officer Solomon Mavuso who had little to say in court as the matter had reached its end.
Following a record breaking 10 year trial Simelane was convicted in the High Court of Eswatini and was given the death penalty by Judge Jacobus Annandale, nine days after he was convicted. No executions have been carried out in Eswatini since 1983. Simelane has been in jail for nine years to this date.
Before delivering the sentence Annandale stated that it (sentencing) was the most difficult aspect of any case.
“Your matter has been before this court for an enormously long time and determination of the appropriate sentence is the most difficult part,” he said. “Mr Simelane or Mhlanga you shall hang by your neck till you die,” he ruled.
The killings are thought to have begun in the late 1990s and lasted until 2001 when police arrested Simelane after a tip-off.
On handing down the judgement Judge Annandale stated that over the years of the trial, the court had acquainted itself with facts of the matter but never before had it heard of such a number of counts of premeditated murder.
“I carefully use the word premeditated simply because you have mentioned it that you committed the crimes after you were convicted for an offence you had not committed,” the judge directed to Simelane.
Annandale said he, himself, would have sympathy for a person who is convicted for an offence he has not committed but stated there was a procedure to deal with such grief.
“What is not acceptable is for you to revenge on women and your hatred was not focused on the women only but on innocent infants,” he stated. The judge said Simelane could not be released from the Correctional Services and said there was no easy way either.
“You never showed any remorse” – Judge
Judge Jacobus Annandale noted that throughout the trial, serial killer, David Simelane never showed any remorse nor apologised to the friends and families of the victims he murdered.
The judge stated that this was probably because Simelane premeditated the commission of the offences. “You have more than once stated that you were upset with the conviction of a rape you had not committed,” the judge stated.
“I cannot compel you to say sorry nor do I expect you to say that this court convicted you correctly.”
He stated that during his last conviction Simelane decided what he wanted to do and went ahead and killed a large number of Swati women and children. He said ever since the trial began the court had never heard a single word of apology. “There is not even a single half-hearted attempt to show remorse,” he stated. Further, Annandale said even the friends and families of the victims never got an apology from Simelane.
“However, I cannot overlook the atrocities you have done on defenceless women and you have not asked this court to be lenient on you probably because you were on a revenge,” Annandale noted.
In the end he said he had come to the unenviable task of pronouncing the sentence where he said he was only left with two options.
The judge stated that in most cases the aspect of sentence was entirely discretional but he did say that in certain crimes of murder, the court was enjoined by the Criminal Procedure Act of 1938 where the death sentence can be passed. He said even then there were certain aspects to be considered.
His trial began in 2004 and about 83 witnesses testified against him. At the beginning of the trial, Simelane was represented by attorney Lucky Howe, who was at some stage, fired as pro deo counsel after accusations that he was delaying the case.
However, Simelane engaged Howe as a private attorney, but was eventually forced to drop him because of the alleged delays.
In came top criminal attorney, Mduduzi Mabila who saw the case taking a new twist with Simelane saying he killed no one despite a confession which he had made before the late Magistrate Charles Masango.
… David has 18 previous convictions
David Simelane was convicted 18 times before being found guilty of murder.
This was revealed on during the mitigation before he was sentenced to death. Director of Public Prosecutions, Mumcy Dlamini, now a judge in the High Court presented evidence to that effect and when the judge asked Simelane if it was true, he responded to the affirmative.
“Do you confirm that you were convicted before,” Judge Annandale enquired from Simelane. “Yes My Lord, it is true,” he responded. Simelane was convicted of rape and robbery cases between 1993 to 1997.
However, his lawyer, Mabila, argued that the previous convictions were irrelevant to the present one because they were committed more than 10 years ago and that they were not similar to murder, which Simelane is guilty of.