Women owned, middle-class homes the target for serial rapist Mashilo

The sentence of six life terms and 636 years handed to Neo Clifford Mashilo this week is cold comfort to the community he brutalised in his three-year reign of terror.

The 31-year-old Mashilo – who was this week found guilty on a raft of charges including rapes, robberies, housebreakings and attempted murder – targeted mainly women-owned homes in the middleclass suburbs of Soshanguve, in northern Pretoria, Gauteng, and Lebowakgomo, Limpopo.

His victims range from a 25-year-old professional who was driving her first entry-level car to a great grandmother in her 80s who was savouring the last phase of her life.

His modus operandi was to break into these women’s homes, assault, rape – sometimes also sodomise them – and steal from little items such as toiletries and Tupperware to big-ticket assets including double cab bakkies and SUVs.

He worked with four accomplices to commit his crimes, two of whom were killed while committing other crimes. The other two are still at large.

In one house in Soshanguve on March 30, 2018, Mashilo assaulted a 38-year-old woman, threatened to shoot her with a firearm, raped and then robbed her of her car, ID, driver’s licence, two smartphones, a TV and sound system, two pairs of tekkies and R200 in cash.

Just two weeks later on April 18, Mashilo assaulted another and threatened to stab her and then stole her small SUV; cellphone, TV, microwave, computer box and even her wall clock.

His reign of terror started on February 11, 2016 in Soshanguve, were he stole a TV. He left a right thumb print on the kitchen window, which would later build a profile that would help the team of police detectives, which included renowned serial rapists investigator Sergent Molwantoa Rapakgadi.

Two months later on May 15, Mashilo was in Seleteng, GaMphahlele, in the Lebowakgomo area, where he broke into the home of another woman, hit her on the head with a bolt cutter, threatened to shoot her and raped her. He made off with her vehicle, clothing, shoes and blankets.

On December 2 2016, he broke into the house of a 69-year-old woman through her bedroom window, raped her and stole two cellphones and R500 in cash.

The DNA found on the blanket in the pensioner’s house would further link him to subsequent crimes.

Just two days after Christmas in 2016, Mashilo broke into the home of a young woman and assaulted her. She was raped and sodomised multiple times, before Mashile took off with her car, cellphones and laptops.

On September 18, 2018, Mashilo broke into the house of an 80-year-old Soshanguve woman and raped her.

Mashilo, who is also from Soshanguve, pleaded guilty to more than 40 charges at the Pretoria High Court on July 31. He was sentenced on Monday this week.

However, it was a charge of attempted murder that unlocked and linked Mashilo to his other gruesome crimes.

On November 18, he shot Abel Mashabela, whom he grew up with. He was arrested for the attempted murder of Mashabela on July 30, 2019. On the day he was arrested he was found with an unlicensed firearm.

The police took his oral swab which linked him to eight cases of rape that were under investigation by Rapakgadi.

Mashilo was charged with the multiple rapes while imprisoned at Kgosi Mampuru II in Pretoria for attempted murder.

Rapakgadi is a detective in the serial and electronic crime investigations unit, a specialised section within the family violence, child protection and sexual offences division in the Gauteng provincial office.

The rape offences also revealed his other crimes through fingerprints, including of housebreaking and robbery.

The DNA evidence and fingerprints also linked Mashilo to the crimes he committed in Limpopo. They were subsequently centralised to Gauteng, where the majority of the crimes had taken place.

In his is guilty plea, Mashilo asked the court not to hand him the maximum sentence because he had been in police custody since he was arrested and he pleaded guilty saving the court time. He also said he was a first-time offender.

Victims’ statements, however, which were presented by prosecutor Thembile Nyakama painted a gruelling picture of the mental, emotional and physical scars that Mashilo has left. His victims also suffered great financial loss.

Mashilo’s name will also be added in the National Register for Sexual Offenders.

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