The Mail Online reports that a famous former rugby player has been arrested in South Africa after allegedly butchering at least three people to death with an axe. A newspaper claimed the unnamed 34-year-old sportsman had launched a murderous rampage in revenge after his daughter was gang-raped and infected with HIV.
The star is due to appear in court tomorrow to face three charges of murder and one of attempted murder in relation to a fourth alleged victim who apparently managed to escape. One of the dead men was named as Paulos Hlongwa, a 46-year-old whose body was found last week in Merebank. Police said his head was later discovered in a dustbin more than a mile away. The decomposing bodies of the other victims were found later last week. Police spokesman Anton Booysen said one of them had been almost fully-decapitated. He added: ‘His head was hanging by nothing more than a nerve.’
Local media today reported that the sportsman had played for the top-flight Blue Bulls rugby side, based in Pretoria. Under South African law police are not permitted to name a suspect in a crime until they have appeared in court.
However officials indicated it was likely the star’s identity could be publicly withheld even after tomorrow’s scheduled hearing, in order to protect the dignity of his daughter following the speculation she had been raped. Meanwhile some fear the tragedy could create fresh fissures in South Africa’s fragile race relations. The vast majority of South African rugby stars are white and it is possible the suspect could be accused of deliberately targeting black victims.
Meanwhile, the suggestion that he was acting out of revenge for his daughter’s alleged rape could spark a new debate about the effect of crime in a country where many live in constant fear of violence.