Five homeless people have been killed within a three-week period during the Pretoria Murders, and the suspect remains at large. On Wednesday, the authorities confirmed that a high-level task-team of pathologists, detectives and crime experts had been formed to stop the suspect from striking again.
Despite showing some signs of serial killer behaviour, the police are reluctant to put that label on the perpetrator, as they don’t quite match the full criteria… yet. The homeless community of Muckleneuk are currently living in fear, and the clock is ticking to apprehend whoever is behind these heinous acts.
Pretoria Murders: Inside the mind of the killer
We spoke to famed investigative forensic psychologist, Dr Gerard Labuschagne, to get some more clarity on the issue, in a bid to understand what makes the killer tick. He’s been monitoring the Pretoria Murders, and believes that defining the person as a “serial killer” may only play into their hands:
“The only people qualified to classify something as a serial is the Investigative Psychology Section of the SAPS. I don’t think it is so important for the police to come out and say it is a serial murderer, as long as they are treating it as a serial murder from an investigative point of view.”
“Classifying something as a serial often gives it a higher media profile which can be counter-productive to the investigation, and also give the suspect an ego boost.”
Labuschagne went on to dissect what has made the killer choose his victims in this fashion. His modus operandi is extremely consistent, with middle-to-senior-aged homeless men proving to be his only target. The method of murder has been the same across all five victims, with each incident taking place during the nighttime.
According to the esteemed expert, this mystery figure may be acting out an “inner fantasy” and is targeting the vagrant community in a bid to limit their risk of getting caught:
“Each serial [killer] develops their own inner fantasy based on their life experiences. These victims might be chosen because of their ease of access, their possible perceived lack of worth in society, and the assumption that police could be ‘less concerned’.”
Pretoria Murders victimology
Finally, Dr Labuschagne considered the motivations involved in the Pretoria Murders. He firmly believes that “homelessness” is a valid factor for some killers, as we’ve already seen in South Africa:
“In the early 2000s, we had the “Waterkloof Four” – they were school kids from a privileged background that killed a homeless person for fun. But repeat killers tend to stick to one type of victimology and the homelessness is probably an important factor in this case.”