Putting sex­ual of­fend­ers away for good is all in a day’s work for these three women. MANDY WIENER meets a cop, sci­en­tist and pros­e­cu­tor who hand out jus­tice to some of the coun­try’s worst crim­i­nals

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE -

THE PE­TITE WOMAN with per­fectly braided hair and man­i­cured nails sits in the bustling tav­ern in Ivory Park in Johannesburg late at night when her phone rings. It’s care­fully set out on the ta­ble, along­side a swollen purse and car keys; bait to lure the tar­get in. When she an­swers, she can hear her wail­ing new­born on the other end. Torn be­tween her re­lent­less hunt for a se­rial rapist and her chil­dren at home, Sergeant Nomsa Ma­suku turns to her male part­ner and calls it quits for the night.

For four years, Nomsa was on the trail of Al­bert Mo­rake. She was based at the Tem­bisa po­lice sta­tion when she es­tab­lished a link be­tween a num­ber of cases – all with the same modus operandi and the same sus­pect’s DNA. Nomsa was so in­tent on catch­ing him that she and her col­league would spend Fri­day nights at bars and tav­erns pos­ing as a cou­ple in the hope that he would tar­get them. At the same time, the 40-year-old was rais­ing three boys who are now 18, 12 and three. ‘The hard­est part of my job is wak­ing up in the mid­dle of the night and leav­ing my fam­ily to trace crim­i­nals who are al­ways armed,’ Nomsa says.

Through good old de­tec­tive work, courage and per­sis­tence, Nomsa caught her man. She re­ceived a tip-o from a source about Al­bert’s lo­ca­tion, staked out his house, knocked on the door pos­ing as a dis­grun­tled ex-girl­friend look­ing for main­te­nance money and bust him red-handed with a house full of stolen goods. He was ul­ti­mately con­victed of 30 counts of rape and 42 of kid­nap­ping, among oth­ers.

Nomsa and I meet in Braam­fontein. She hasn’t slept in two days, but her bright eyes and com­posed de­meanour be­lie this fact. Orig­i­nally from KwaZulu-Natal, Nomsa grew up ‘scared of see­ing a po­lice o cer’. ‘Now here I am; I am one of them,’ she says. She spent ve years work­ing at Booy­sens po­lice sta­tion in Johannesburg, two of them in uni­form. Frus­trated that she was never al­lowed into the eld be­cause of her slight frame and her gen­der, she joined the de­tec­tive branch and found her niche in gen­der-re­lated crimes. But it is her gen­der, she thinks, that works to her ad­van­tage when work­ing with vic­tims. ‘It’s eas­ier for fe­male vic­tims to re­late to fe­male o cers than male o cers,’ she says. She now spe­cialises in catch­ing se­rial rapists, and re­lies on her sup­port struc­ture to be able to de­vote so much time and energy to her work. ‘I make sure that my hus­band un­der­stands my du­ties, and the rea­son why I am do­ing it. He is very sup­port­ive and al­ways makes time for the fam­ily when I’m not around.’

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