August 28 2006 at 05:01AM
By Graeme Hosken and Barry Bateman
Pretoria police are investigating reports that a gang of serial rapists and armed robbers is targeting female students in Brooklyn and Hatfield.
In the past seven months, five University of Pretoria students have been attacked and raped in three house robberies.
The latest attack occurred during the early hours of Thursday morning when three men armed with knives overpowered three women before raping two of them and assaulting the third.
'These are not random attacks'
It is believed that the gang has been responsible for at least 12 attacks on female university students since February.
The gang of three, according to police sources and private investigator Mike Bolhuis, targets women students living in communes, following the intended targets for nearly a week before launching an attack in the early hours of the morning.
Bolhuis said the gang specifically targeted women living in communes which had no alarm or security systems.
He said he had been commissioned by the parents of five victims to investigate the attacks on their daughters.
"We believe that three attacks - the one on Thursday and two others in February and April - are linked.
"We are also investigating seven similar attacks in which female students were attacked, raped and their homes looted," he said.
Bolhuis said that in Thursday's attack the three students were overpowered by their attackers and tied to chairs.
After tying up their victims, the men and raped two of the women and assaulted the third.
They then stole jewellery, cellphones, money and other valuables.
Bolhuis said that the three attacks, as well as the other seven under investigation, had been carried out in a similar manner.
"These are not random attacks.
"They are planned meticulously and the victims and their homes are specifically targeted," he said.
Bolhuis urged female students and women living alone or in communes to be alert and on the watch for strangers loitering near their homes.
Police spokesperson Inspector Anton Breedt confirmed that Thursday's attack had started at about 1am.
He said: "Three men armed with knives broke into their garden flat and attacked them.
"Two of the women were raped by two of the men.
"The intruders then stole cellphones, jewellery and clothes before fleeing the scene," Breedt said.
He said that no arrests had been made, but that the police were following up all leads.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of the attackers can call Crime Stop on 08600 10111.
This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on August 28, 2006