By the time Sithole’s trial began on 21 October 1996, mounting evidence saw the total charges against him increase to 38 counts of murder, 40 counts of rape and 6 counts of robbery. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Building a chronological picture of his crimes, the prosecution introduced harrowing testimony, from his earliest rape victims, detailing their ordeals at the hands of Sithole before his first conviction for rape.
There followed a detailed examination of his connection with each of the murdered victims, with testimony about the alleged job offers, and the specific techniques used to lure his victims to their deaths. Sithole appeared cool and collected throughout.
On 3 December 1996, the prosecution introduced a video that had been shot during Sithole’s initial incarceration, in which Sithole candidly admitted to 29 murders. He describes his technique in some detail, although he claims that he began killing only in July 1995, selecting his victims for their resemblance to the rape victim, Buyiswa Doris Swakamisa, whom he regarded as responsible for his first jail sentence. The legality of the admissibility of this tape, recorded illegally in a jail cell, caused the trial to be delayed until 29 January 1997, and the technical issues relating to it, as well as Sithole’s original confession, caused the trial to drag on until 29 July 1997, when the judge finally ruled that the evidence was admissible.
The prosecution rested its case on 15 August 1997. The defence case depended largely on Sithole’s denial of any involvement in the killings, when he took the witness box, but his testimony was often rambling and incoherent.
On 4 December 1997, more than a year after the case had commenced, Moses Sithole was found guilty on all charges. It took three hours to read the verdict, with the consequence that sentencing had to be postponed until the next day.
Next morning, the judge made a statement stating that, in view of the abhorrent nature of the crimes, he would have had no hesitation in pronouncing a death sentence on Sithole. However, since the death penalty in South Africa had been declared unconstitutional in 1995, Sithole was sentenced to 2,410 years in prison, with no possibility of parole for at least 930 years. Clearly, the sentence meant to keep Sithole behind bars for the rest of his life.