Serial killer whips up a social media storm from behind bars

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Serial killer whips up a social media storm from behind bars

He butchered three elderly people. Now he's on Facebook in his prison kit, and his victims' families are livid

Journalist


Doe-eyed serial killer Kershwin Goldstone – convicted for the bloody slaying of three elderly Pietermaritzburg pensioners in a murder spree last year – is apparently whiling away his 135-year prison sentence on Facebook.
A social media profile under his name shows the 22-year-old in his garish orange prison uniform, and was stumbled upon by the family of one of his victims.
Goldstone murdered Patricia O’Connor‚ 92‚ Roland Heathcote‚ 89‚ and Patricia Tugwell‚ 89‚ over a period of 20 days in July last year.
The court found that, driven by a rampant drug addiction‚ the 22-year-old had scaled the walls of the Kenwyn and Jacaranda retirement lodges‚ which lie adjacent to one another in central Pietermaritzburg‚ with the intent to steal. Using drain pipes as a foothold‚ he climbed through windows on the lodges’ upper levels and forced his way into apartments.
Goldstone pleaded guilty to eight counts – including murder‚ housebreaking with intent to steal‚ theft and aggravated robbery.
Less than a year on, Heathcote’s niece, Elise Heathcote van Dyk, told Times Select she had come across Goldstone’s Facebook profile from beyond the bars.
She said she had brought this to the attention of authorities.
Handing down the sentence in the days after Goldstone was captured, Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Piet Bezuidenhout said the killer’s vivid recollection of each murder showed he had not been affected by his drug use and knew what he was doing.
“Fortunately, he was arrested before he could do it a fourth time‚” Bezuidenhout remarked at the time.
O’Connor was the first to be murdered in her flat in Kenwyn on July 21. She was strangled to death.
Days later‚ in the Jacaranda Lodge next door‚ Heathcote was stabbed to death.
Tugwell was the last in his spree. Goldstone slit her throat with a pair of scissors after he forced his way into her room.
“The man who murdered my uncle, the same man who is meant to be serving life sentences in prison, has opened up a Facebook profile while in jail. How on earth would he get that right?” Heathcote van Dyk quizzed.
She said Heathcote had been murdered just more than a week after his 89th birthday.
“I so wish we didn’t have to keep these people alive. [His profile picture] is with a picture of a woman with a photo of him in his jailhouse uniform inserted into it,” she said.
A perusal of the private page reveals little activity and a short list of friends. Efforts to contact Goldstone via Facebook were unsuccessful at the time of publishing, and the woman in the photograph could not be identified.
The short list of friends includes Goldstone’s brother, Tyrell. 
Inmates in South African prisons have regular access to cellphones that are smuggled into facilities, some of which meet the standards for maximum security.
Last year TimesLIVE reported some prisoners – armed with their cellphones – had even put in calls to correctional services minister Michael Masutha.
Masutha told parliamentary journalists in November he received “all manner of calls, 24/7”,  including from inmates on numerous occasions.
Cellphones and the use of cellphones in correctional centres are banned, and any inmate who uses or is in possession of a cellphone is in breach of the law, he said then.
Masutha was briefing journalists about recent security breaches at SA’s prisons and the plans to reduce such breaches.
He also said following the appointment of a new chief security officer at his department’s head office in January last year, a number of measures had been implemented to improve security in the country’s correctional centres.
These included the establishment of a security committee to advise the department on security-related matters, the procurement of contraband detection equipment, implementing consequence management resulting from security breaches, conducting special operations by the emergency support team that conducted unannounced searches, and specialised training of security personnel to improve their tactical capability.
KwaZulu-Natal department of correctional services spokesperson Thulani Mdluli was contacted for comment on the Goldstone issue, but did not respond.

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