While little is known about the five homeless men who have been murdered in the Muckleneuk area in Tshwane since the beginning of June, one of the victims has been described as a friendly man who mostly kept to himself.
Nobody knows his name, where he came from, or how old he was, but the homeless man whose body was discovered in Magnolia Park on June 8 had been living there for more than a year.
He was known to the people tasked with the upkeep of the park, car guards in the parking lot and staff at Huckleberry’s restaurant in Magnolia Park.
Several people told News24 that while the homeless man frequently acted “strangely”, he was a quiet, non-violent man who eventually became a familiar and friendly face in the park.
The manager of Huckleberry’s, Chris Letswalo, said when the man first appeared in the park almost a year ago, they tried to chase him away, fearing that he might harass patrons at the restaurant, but he soon realised the homeless man meant no harm.
“On two occasions, we tried chasing him away, but he didn’t respond to us. He was acting like he was deaf, only to find out [later] that he was very friendly,” Letswalo said.
He was friendly, meant no harm
He added that while the man was friendly, he behaved strangely.
He would go out each day to collect rubbish, place it in a big plastic bag, only to bring it back to the park and dump the rubbish in the same area where he slept at night.
“There would be rubbish all over. We would go and clean up but the next morning he would go out and do the same thing.”
Letswalo said because the man was not a threat and very friendly, they tolerated his strange habit of dumping rubbish in the park, and just made sure to clean the area every morning.
In the year that the man called Magnolia Park home, he never harassed anybody and only kept to himself.
The minor interaction he did have with people was with the car guards in the parking lot.
Two car guards, who did not want to be named, said the homeless man would come to the parking lot every day in search of cigarette butts.
They added that the man also exhibited strange behaviour, hardly saying a word when he was in the parking lot.
“[He] wouldn’t even spend five minutes with us. Sometimes you would offer him a cigarette he would refuse to take it and rather pick up stompies from the ground,” one car guard said.
A street vendor in the area, who also did not want to be named, said he was there on the day that the man’s body was discovered, and that he immediately recognised him as one of the guys living in the park at the time.
He described the man as someone who was “not entirely there” mentally and said he would keep to himself and never caused any problems.
He said since the murders, fewer homeless people have been sleeping in the park and that many of them were scared because they did not know why they were being targeted and who would be targeted next.
Several homeless people told News24 that they were petrified and have resorted to sleeping in groups.
Fifth body found
On Wednesday morning, the police confirmed that a fifth body had been discovered at a bus stop near Unisa’s main campus in Muckleneuk.
By Wednesday evening, the police said, based on information received from two witnesses, they had established that the suspected nocturnal prowler, the name police have given the suspect, wore a balaclava during the attacks, which occurred while the victims were asleep. They also found that the suspect had acted alone.
The first body was found almost three weeks ago in a veld near the Mears Park train station. Two more were found in Magnolia Park on June 8 and 9 and a fourth was found on a pavement on the corner of Justice Mohammed and Troye streets on Tuesday.
All five victims were found in different parts of Muckleneuk.
Police have confirmed that the five were homeless middle-aged males.
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