|Intro||South African serial killer|
Gamal Salie Lineveldt (born c. 1919 – 1942 in Cape Town), also known as Gamut Linneveld, was a South African rapist and serial killer responsible for the “Cape Flats Murders”, in which 4 European women were raped and then bludgeoned to death from October to November 1940. Lineveldt was later hanged for his crimes.
On October 3, 1940, Lineveldt attacked a middle-aged European woman while she was walking home. The woman lived a short distance away and had been on a visit to Cape Town, before boarding a train bound to Claremont, where she’d then changed to a bus. After arriving at Lansdowne, she used a shortcut towards her home, and when she reached an isolated section of it, Lineveldt struck her down, bound her wrists with one of her stockings before dragging her to the farm fence, where he raped and brutally beat her with a metal pipe. He stole the woman’s hat, a ring and her handbag, and fled.
On the following day, at about 8:30 am, a servant living at a nearby farm in Lansdowne noticed the injured woman near the fence, seemingly unable to move. He then reported it to his employer who telephoned the local police. She was quickly transported to Groote Schuur Hospital where she died the following evening, without having spoken.
The authorities were unable to gather much evidence from the crime scene, as a result of continuous rain having washed away potential clues. However, a witness statement was obtained that a tall European man, who had been seen near the spot, had entered his car and rapidly driven towards town. Experts considered the fact that the whole situation might have been an accident, although not ignoring the theory of a premeditated attack, suggesting that there first had been a collision, and then a murder to prevent discovery of the accident.
While the police were investigating the previous murder, Lineveldt was surveying his next victim, another middle-aged European woman living alone in Wynberg, examining the premises and area. On October 22, Lineveldt decided to strike. Since the woman ran a kennel business, her house had high fences on both sides, and so Lineveldt had decided to force his way through a front bedroom window, then crept around the house to the living room, where the woman was reading the evening newspaper. Carrying the metal pipe again, he struck her while she was sitting in her chair, and then dragged her to the settee behind the chair, where he hit her again. Lineveldt then removed her stockings and rifled through her bag, before quickly fleeing.
On the following day, at 07:00 AM, the housemaid discovered the body and called the police. Finding that this victim was similar to the previous one and had again been killed with a heavy blunt instrument, authorities suspected that the two cases were connected. This time the perpetrator left a palm print at the scene which would later be used to establish his identity. The search for suspects was expanded in the area, which scared Lineveldt away to another suburb.
The next murder would occur at Wetton, on November 11. Lineveldt, for about an hour before the attack, was loitering around his future victim’s premises, unaware that he had been observed by a Malay man and a European woman. At about 10:15 AM, a young European woman was washing her clothes in front of the house and had to enter inside for some reason, and, upon emerging, was struck on the head by Lineveldt with the metal pipe. The woman fell on the ground and was then dragged away to the bushes left of the house, where the same young Malay man, who had just delivered the groceries, came across the scene. Noticing the “strange coloured man” of medium build who ran through the gate to the road, the Malay chased after him. After a short distance, the perpetrator mounted a bicycle and drove off into the direction of Lansdowne. The Malay man returned to grab his bicycle, but by the time he had resumed the chase, the attacker had already covered significant distance and had escaped into some bushes.
The Malay then informed the police of the attack, and a detective who was at the station agreed to accompany him in continuing the search. Meanwhile, all nearby stations were alerted of the attack, with an intensive search being initiated around Cape Town, lasting through the night into the break of dawn. Sadly, after lingering for a few days, the victim died from her injuries.
According to the witness testimonies of the Malay and the other European woman, who only conflicted when it came to the clothing, the killer had fled on a bicycle with red tyres. Using this knowledge, the authorities questioned all employers, especially those of casual labourers, in regard to the comings and goings of their employees. Many men were stationed at various vantage points around Lansdowne, Wetton and Athlone to keep watch of non-Europeans, and since one witness had described the culprit as having “bulging eyes”, the possibility was considered that the man was a dagga or drug addict. Many huts and hovels were searched and many suspects questioned, with regrettable inconvenience caused to a number of them, including a student of the local university.
On November 25, a fortnight after the last murder, Lineveldt struck yet again, this time in Rondebosch. He had decided to break into a house three miles away from the previous crime scene, and, although it wasn’t isolated, the house was protected from the vantage points. Climbing through the back of the property and through the garden, he entered the house through the window of a back bedroom, which adjoined the one in which the victim was in. During the morning, the woman had been gardening, and upon re-entering the house at midday and going into the bedroom, she had been attacked by Lineveldt, who carried an axe this time. He pushed the victim onto the bed before striking her in the head and neck, killing her on the spot. After rummaging through the room, Lineveldt climbed back out through the window and fled through the bushes on his bicycle.
A man, who resided in the house, discovered his dead landlady after returning from work. After the police carefully examined the crime scene, it was quickly connected to the previous crimes. Although more palm prints were found in the house, the murderer’s identity continued to remain unknown.
Capture, sentence and death
Aware that a bloodlusty killer was on the loose, Senior Detective Officers, under the guide of the then Head of the Union C.I.D., were transferred from the Transvaal to supervise and assist in what would become one of the greatest manhunts in the Peninsula and the Cape Flats. Authorities covered large ground, from Bellville in one direction to Fish Hoek and Strandfontein in another. Police were stationed at key points to question workers returning from Cape Town, interrogating thousands and detaining hundreds for further examination. Although there were some complaints about the inconvenience caused, many people were cooperative, and since no more murders were committed, it wasn’t left unconsidered that the killer had fled the district.
Even though systematic investigations by the police were resumed, no developments were made until March 11, 1941, when a European woman reported being molested by a colored man in a Wynberg street. The man fled, and the woman instructed a delivery boy to follow him, but when the boy told her that he knew the man, she reported it to the police. The authorities searched for said delivery boy, and eventually traced him to a Wynberg butcher, saying that he indeed knew the suspect, but didn’t know where he could be found. He was asked to try and locate him, and finally, on March 16, the boy directed the detectives to the Gaiety Theatre in Wynberg, where they arrested Gamal Salie Lineveldt, a 23-year-old Malay man of small stature and slender build.
Lineveldt was discovered to be without a left thumb, but also in possession of a ring and silver hat ornament belonging to the Lansdowne victim. His bicycle and an axe were found in his room, along with a red tyre, which had been hidden away. Eventually, palm prints managed to connect him to the other murders. An opportunity was given to several European women who had reported cases of assault to identify their potential attacker, with one or two recognizing Lineveldt, and another claiming that she had even seen him lingering around her house for a long time. The Malay man, who was employed to search him, didn’t recognize him, and it was interesting that Lineveldt didn’t match any of the descriptions given of the perpetrator. Nevertheless, he confessed to the murders, claiming that he had cut off his own thumb because he feared police might get the handprint, and that he had fitted his axe with a new handle, corresponding with that of the final murder.
On the evidence available, Gamal Lineveldt was quickly tried, convicted and sentenced to death before the Supreme Court of South Africa on June 10, 1941, and he was executed the following year, ending one of South Africa’s most baffling cases of a criminal investigation.