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Ananias Mathe – a South African tragedy

Seven years of murder and mayhem

Seven years of murder and mayhem, rape and robbery, came to an end in a South African courtroom early in December 2009 when notorious murderer, rapist and violent robber Ananias Mathe was sentenced to an effective 54 years in maximum security.

Judge Geraldine Borchers, in sentencing Mathe in the Johannesburg High Court, said, “Rehabilitation cannot take precedence because he is dangerous.”

He was taken away under exceptional security to begin to serve his sentence in a maximum security prison in the remote town of Kokstad in kwaZulu-Natal province.

Ananias Mathe. Photo: Pretoria News 9 December 2009

Ananias Mathe. Photo: Pretoria News 9 December 2009

Front page headline in Sowetan on 9 December 2009

Front page headline in Sowetan on 9 December 2009

Mathe in the dock. Photo The Sowetan 9 December 2009

Mathe in the dock. Photo The Sowetan 9 December 2009

Mathe's reign of terror

Mathe, a 33-year-old Mozambican, began his criminal reign of terror in 1999 when he began by violently taking goods from people's homes. He first raped a woman in June 2003, a 19-year-old Johannesburg resident. He was arrested and mysteriously released, to continue his criminal activities.

He was arrested again in April 2004 in Pretoria and after appearing in court was released on bail of R500 (less than US$100). In January 2005 he raped another woman in Johannesburg, was arrested again, and this time escaped from a police high risk facility.

Mathe was arrested again in November 2005 in connection with yet another rape. He was then detained in the high-security C-Max prison in Pretoria, but again managed to escape, apparently with inside help.

He was again arrested in December 2006 when he was found driving a stolen car.

Mathe was charged with a total of 64 counts, including seven of rape, four of attempted murder, 28 of housebreaking, two charges of escaping from custody, and additional counts of being in unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, theft and attempted theft. He was also charged with the killing of 11 dogs.

He was sentenced by Judge Borchers to a total of 455 years in jail, with many of the sentences running concurrently. In passing sentence the judge said, “It is my view that the court should not impose hundreds of years because no human being can live long enough to serve such sentences, and this makes a mockery of the justice system.”

Because Mathe was regarded as such a high escape risk he was taken from the court by helicopter to fetch his belongings in Pretoria's C-Max before being flown in a chartered plane to his new prison home in Kokstad.

In Kokstad Maximum Security Prison Mathe will be under 24-hour guard. He will only be eligible for parole after 43 years, by which time he will be 76, and presumably no longer a threat to society.

Ananias Mathe's 82-year-old father Zephanias. Photo: The Sowetan

Ananias Mathe's 82-year-old father Zephanias. Photo: The Sowetan

Ananias's wife Felista and their son Doctor. Photo: The Sowetan

Ananias's wife Felista and their son Doctor. Photo: The Sowetan

The rest of the story

Mathe became notorious and feared in South Africa because of the viciousness of the crimes he committed and his apparent lack of remorse.

As Judge Borchers said, if Mathe had felt any remorse he would have pleaded guilty on all counts against him.

Instead, she said, “He watched as the State was obliged to call witnesses to testify against him. He watched as the rape victims and their families testified in tears.

“Mathe did not testify in court to express remorse on his own,” she concluded.

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Mathe submitted a report by a clinical psychologist in which he claimed that his childhood had been disrupted by his joining the Mozambican Army during the civil war in that country, but the judge did not entertain this as being evidence of remorse.

Mathe's father, Zephanias Mathe, 82, has lived and worked in South Africa since 1957. He worked on the mines until 1997 and had 11 children, all dead except for Ananias and his brother Nitu. Mathe senior has 11 grandchildren, seven of them Ananias's.

The Sowetan newspaper sent a reporter and a photographer to Mozambique to look up the family there. They took the old man with them.

In Chicumbane they met Mathe's wife Felista and his children, as well as his brother Nitu who lost a leg in a car crash in 2003.

The newspaper team also met a neighbour of Mathe's, Thomas Sithole who told them that Ananias had come to South Africa in 1995. Both Sithole and Nitu said that Ananias had not been involved with the army in Mozambique.

The family plans to try to get Mathe sent back to Mozambique to serve his sentence there.

Ananias Mathe's children (from left): Duduza, Doctor, Thembi, Viriato, Felisberto and Safira. Photo: The Sowetan

Ananias Mathe's children (from left): Duduza, Doctor, Thembi, Viriato, Felisberto and Safira. Photo: The Sowetan

Crime and punishment

I find it difficult to feel any sadness for Ananias Mathe. I think he has richly deserved the punishment of a long, long time in jail. He is obviously a cruel, unfeeling person with little understanding of the effect on others of what he has done.

One of the women he raped was a virgin before the incident. Others have left South Africa, unable to stay in the country where they were violated.

One cannot but feel dreadfully sorry for these victims. And, I admit, very angry at Mathe for his lack of empathy, his heartlessness, his lack of feeling for others.

And most especially I feel angry and sad that the children he has fathered are left behind in poverty, some of them not ever having seen him. His wife is left to cope. That is almost unforgivable.

I look at the photo of the children and I just feel so angry that this man has done this to them.

Children deserve fathers who are kind and gentle, who look after them and make sure that they have all they need to get started in life. What chance do these beautiful young people have now?

One can only hope that the African philosophy of uBuntu will work, and that they will find comfort and help in their extended family and be supported by their neighbours.

Surely Ananias Mathe deserves to be punished, but do his wife and children also deserve punishment? I don't think so, but that's what they are getting. This is yet another African tragedy in the making.

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2010


Evasilent on July 15, 2016:

This Mathe guy will be given a parole at 76? i still think its not a good idea... he's still going to be a burden to the family or who ever he will be staying with because of aging.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on May 12, 2015:

He is still alive in maximum security jail

a on April 16, 2015:

is he still alive if not which year did he died?

Matrubalenta on May 31, 2012:

Tony, are there any updates concerning dis thug recently, i mean is he still alive? Is he stil in KZN? And lastly i'd like to say dat dis guy must be taken to Polsmoor prison.

Paullett on March 12, 2012:

He is in a prison. he has a place to sleep, eat, bathe- he has it good in comparison to all his victims. Women raped never feel safe again.His children have it bad as well their only crime being the offspring of a depraved violent nut case. The stigma I am sure must stick to them. So now that we have the story the question is could it have turned out any different? How to stop it again?

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on October 25, 2010:

Al - I am not one of those going to Aus, I'm sticking around in South Africa and taking the lumps! And I care deeply about all people while I don't expect any special treatment myself. So I try to contribute to a better life for all here.

Thanks for the comment anyway and I wish you well!

Love and peace


Al on October 25, 2010:

Who cares what happens to SA whites , you bastards are coming to Aus in droves trying to stuff up this place like you did your own country , stay and face the music you caused it no run like cowards.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on May 27, 2010:

Well I think, Lunga, that he has been dealt with. He will not come out from Kokstad for a very long tim. And I still worry about his family.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Love and peace


lunga on May 27, 2010:

this guy is just a total monster man and deserves to just suffer as much as possible ,he cant be associated as a human being if he doesn't act like one....more people like him must be dealt with as soon as possible

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 06, 2010:

Hi SXP - ikndeed the justice system is in serious need of a kick-start. Corrupt officials need to be weeded out and the police made more accountable.

Racism is always a problem which unfortunately taints the justice system from top to bottom.

But I believe there is hope. There are good people in there and they will succeed in making the system work the way it should.

We need to always keep in mind that we are still in a transition phase and there are bound to be many problems.

Thanks for the visit and the comment. I apreciate it.

Love and peace


SXP from South Africa on April 06, 2010:

Hi T

This case is just the tip of the iceberg. This is one of thousands of cases, most of which unfortunately never lead to successful convictions. This is what truly lets us down, together with racism that is now done to whites.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on April 01, 2010:

Yolanda - actually I think that Mathe's case is a good example of why the death penalty should not be brought back - it fuels revenge and brutalises society further. But thanks for the visit and the comment. And I hope he doesn't escape again. I love Kokstad and wouldn't like its people to be endangered by this man.

Love and peace


Yolanda on March 31, 2010:

I fear for the people in the small town of Kokstad. I think Mathe is yet to escape again. This case is a great exmpample of why the death penlty should be brought back

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on February 12, 2010:

Dim, Mickey - thanks for the comments. It is a sad story indeed for all concerned. It does seem a pity that justice sometimes seems to take so long but I guess in a way it is preferable to a "rush to judgement" in which oftentimes the innocent get caught up and the guilty go free.

Love and peace


Micky Dee on February 12, 2010:

Terrible story but you reported it well. Thanks Tony.

Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on January 22, 2010:

I always find it hard to believe that someone like this gets away to repeat crime after crime. Thank goodness he is finally locked in a secure place. We hope!) I do feel sorry for his family. It's not their fault. I hope you are right about extended family help for them. Thanks for an interesting though sad article. Peace

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on January 20, 2010:

Thanks Amillar, Mulberry and Observer for your comments. I appreciate them very much.

Indeed the horror is that this man was able to get away with so much for so long, bringing pain and suffering to his victims and his family - not an acceptable situation.

Love and peace


Observer on January 20, 2010:

The stench of corruption in the judicial and correctional system is to blame for 80% of this man's crimes. How did he get acquitted so easily or escape so often after conviction?

Christine Mulberry on January 08, 2010:

You're right of course. His crimes have devastating effects on his family as well. It creates a cycle. A child's role model is a thief, rapist, etc. They are left in poverty and potentially exposed to excessive violence or deprivation...the cycle can end only when others (extended family, community, or ?) step in and give a helping hand.

amillar from Scotland, UK on December 31, 2009:

Very well written and researched Tony. And I agree with what you say about his family. 'You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family', we say here in Scotland.

Happy New Year.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on December 31, 2009:

Nancy - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Indeed his reign of terror has ended at last. But the pain will go on for so long for his victims, including his family, whose love and trust he betrayed so violently.

Love and peace


Nancy's Niche on December 31, 2009:

Such a sad story and one that is too familiar in all countries. You have to wonder what happened in the young man’s life that made him turn so violent. No person is born with such hatred and violence in his or her heart. This is heartbreaking for his family and the families of those he violated. However, his reign of terror has finally ended…

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on December 31, 2009:

Thanks fastfreta - yes I believe his family is also a victim of his crimes. Thanks for commenting.

Love and peace


Alfreta Sailor from Southern California on December 31, 2009:

What a tragedy for not only his victims, but also his collective family. The family could also be called victims. Tonymac, this is another one of your very well written hub.

Tony McGregor (author) from South Africa on December 30, 2009:

Thanks for your comment Lorlie. The man was "legally" in South Africa. But yes, borders can't stop tragedies.

Love and peace


Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on December 30, 2009:

How on earth do these people 'fall through the cracks?' Your entire story shows that tragedies like these cross all borders.

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