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When Mr Oscar Ndlovu sold his house in Nkulumane 5 suburb in Bulawayo in 2019 and relocated to South Africa with his son Thandolwenkosi and daughter Zoe, he did not know he had created a big problem.
After failing to survive the rough turf of life in South Africa, Thandolwenkosi also known as Thile or simply The Serial Killer, soon came back to Zimbabwe and went on an unprecedented crime spree, killing eight people in Harare and Bulawayo, and cannibalising body parts.
His weaponry was broken bottle, concrete blocks and bricks.
Nothing is known about Thile’s mother, suggesting hemay have grown up in a broken family.
While his Ndebele language name, Thandolwenkosi directly translates to God’s love, he did exactly the opposite, playing devil incarnate.
Thile went on a murder spree and his low hanging fruits were homeless people on the streets of Harare and Bulawayo, in most cases intoxicated with substances and very easy to attack.
Born on August 10, 2003 at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo, Thile was first arrested in February 2020 for unlawful entry and theft and served a month in jail at Grey Prison in Bulawayo. As it turned out, the stint in prison must have hardened him.
In 2021, he was again arrested for attempted murder before serving jail time at Harare Central Prison. He was released in 2022.
Thile, who normally partook beer and illicit substances frequented Warren Park 1 Shops and Simon Muzenda Street (formerly 4th Street) bus terminus.
His serial killing sent many homeless people on the streets of Harare scampering for cover. The worst thing was that they did not know the killer, who operated as a lone ranger.
Some of the vagrants interviewed alleged that they did not know Thile and that the reason they had recently deserted the streets they had been sleeping at night was because they were feared that they could be targeted and killed.
“We decided to move out of the city fearing for our lives since there have been earlier reports that there was a gang killing some of our colleagues for suspected ritual purposes,” said one person living on the streets who identified himself as Takundwa Chaitezvi.
Police this week said they had not found any evidence to link the recent murder cases committed by Thile to ritual killings.
Another person living on the streets, who operates along Leopold Takawira Street said they had been relieved since the suspect was accounted for.
“It is also my hope that the suspect won’t be released on bail because once he is released, he will terrorise us again,” said another homeless boy, who only identified himself as Charles.
Many homeless people living along Julius Nyerere Way near Harare Gardens started living in groups as a measure to avert attacks.
Police detectives recently tracked Thile along Abdel Gamal Nasser Road (formerly Rotten Row), Harare after he allegedly tried to attack a “street kid” who did not bother to make a police report.
On arrest, Thile was positively linked to five murder cases which occurred at the corner of George Silundika Avenue and Simon Muzenda Street, at the corner of Mayor Urimbo Terrace (formerly Inez Terrace) and Robert Mugabe Road, at the corner of Nelson Mandela Avenue and Seventh Street, Harare and at the corner of Cripps Road and Remembrance Road, Harare.
Police recovered blood stained clothes from him and he has since made indications on video to the police on how he committed the offences and these will be produced in court as exhibits.
Thile has since appeared in court and was remanded in custody to September 21 pending indictment to the High Court.
Last Thursday, Thile appeared before magistrate Dennis Mangosi charged with killing eight vagrants by crushing their heads with concrete blocks and stones. Thile is also facing two attempted murder charges.
Two of the five victims killed in Harare have since been identified while the other three are yet to be identified.
Thile would reportedly boil or braai the human parts on an open fireplace and consume them while in Harare’s CBD.
He has been linked to three murder cases in Bulawayo in 2020, where he crushed a victim’s head in Bellevue suburb using a brick after he found him drunk and asleep in his yard.
In December 2020, he crushed another victim’s head in Makokoba Suburb after finding him asleep by the roadside.
He again crushed another victim’s head using stones at Sekhusile Shopping Centre, Nkulumane after finding him sleeping on the pavement. He then fled to Harare.
Thile is also facing a charge of attempted murder and has a warrant of arrest for a robbery case which occurred in Milton Park, Harare in June 2021.
Thile’s rural home is in Lubhangwe Village under Chief Malaba in Nkayi District. *Herald*