/ 18 January 2006

Laundry murder victims put into washing machine alive

Three female employees of a dry-cleaning operation were put one by one and still alive into a large washing machine containing chemicals before being tied up and strangled, the Vereeniging Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday.

The grizzly details of the murders were laid out by investigating officer Inspector Sello Molapisi in opposition to the bail application of the four accused.

While he described how the victims were put into the machine, Caroline Lesito — victim Jocelyn Lesito’s mother — rushed sobbing out of the courtroom.

Lesito (28), Constance Moeletsi and Victoria Ngweni (30) were found dead in laundry bins at their workplace, the Protea Dry Cleaners in Vereeniging, on the morning of January 4. The murders took place on January 3.

Employer Charl Colyn, his daughter Isabel, son-in-law Jacques Smit and family friend Ruan Swanepoel stand accused of the murders and are currently applying for bail. Another three suspects are still being sought by police.

The Colyns’ gardeners, Samuel Mzizi and Jacob Dlamini, are currently in custody. Dlamini has confessed his part in the murders, as well as that of the others. Their case has been postponed to February 1.

ANC supporters, brightly clad in yellow, protested loudly outside the courthouse. Dancing and singing, they bore placards reading: ”Away with human slaughter”.

The courthouse was overflowing with many spectators standing and some spilling out through the doors.

The four accused were led out of the courtroom to shouts of ”Murderers”. Their bail application continues on Thursday. — Sapa