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DNA evidence links suspect to brutal 2014 rape and murder

By Shorné Bennie

Litisha's brutalised and half-naked body was found by police in a stormwater drain in a field near Woodlands Secondary School.

police tape
File image.

Nine years after the gruesome rape and murder of 20-year-old Copesville woman Litisha Naidoo, DNA evidence has led to the arrest of a suspect whose formal confession contained chilling details relating to the crime.

In November 2014, Litisha’s brutalised and half-naked body was found by police in a stormwater drain in a field near Woodlands Secondary School and the busy Debi Market.

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She had been repeatedly stabbed and suffered a gash to her neck. An autopsy would later confirm the young woman was brutally raped.

Soon after the crime, detectives arrested Litisha’s boyfriend and another suspect. They spent four years in custody before the state withdrew the charges against them.

At the time, The Witness reported that the withdrawal was due to insufficient evidence after the state’s main witness died in custody.

The ruling stunned the victim’s family with Litisha’s dad Steve Naidoo lamenting the fact the family could not find closure until the perpetrators were tried and convicted.

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This week, police arrested a suspect that had been linked through DNA evidence to the 2014 rape and murder of Litisha.

The man had been arrested, charged, and convicted for a housebreaking in the suburb of Newholmes five years ago.

He was routinely swabbed for DNA, which was then linked to DNA extracted from semen recovered from the body of Litisha.

On Monday after his arrest, the suspect told police that he wanted to explain what happened nine years ago.

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In order for the suspect’s version to be formally recorded, detectives contacted chief magistrate Evelyn Monyemore.

She instructed senior magistrate Ashin Singh to open the court building, and he orchestrated a late-night court session for the suspect’s confession at 9 pm.

The man alleged that a person closely associated with Litisha had approached him and his friends offering to pay them to rape and murder the young woman.

The group of friends were whoonga and glue addicts who would often smoke together in the vicinity of the crime.

He said they agreed to the rape, but refused to murder her.

The suspect said that they refused to murder the woman as doing so “would be an offence”.

He then gave a detailed description of how Litisha was attacked, raped and murdered.

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At this stage, police cannot arrest the alleged mastermind behind the crimes who was implicated in the confession.

In a further twist, the suspect also confessed to two other rapes in the area, one at Ezinketheni informal settlement and the other at Nkululeko informal settlement.

On Wednesday, Letisha’s father, Steve, said since the withdrawal of the charges years ago he had never given up hope that eventually justice would be served.

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Ever since the charges were withdrawn, I have been up and down trying to get justice for my daughter.

“It is still very fresh to me. Justice has not been served to my daughter who was murdered too brutally.
I haven’t as yet been informed of the latest arrest and developments,” he said and expressed hope that criminal proceedings will continue and result in those responsible being held to account.