The phenomenon of serial killers is increasing world wide.
During the past decade the most memorable cases of serial
homicide in South Africa have been those of the "Norwood serial
killer", the "Station Strangler", the "Cleveland serial killer",
"The Gaunteng serial killer" and the "St Charles serial killer".
The enigma surrounding serial killers is the so-called "lack of
motive'' for the murders. No extrinsic motive such as robbery,
financial gain, revenge or passion exists as there usually would
be in the case of other murders.
The available literature indicates that several theories have
been proposed to explain the origin of serial homicide, but none
can explain sufficiently to the author why one person with a
certain type of background and exposed to a certain environment
becomes a serial killer, whilst another, with a similar
background and circumstances does not. The theories that are
discussed are the socio-cultural factors, Ressler's motivational
model, systemic factors, demonic possession, neurological
factors, psychogenic factors and fantasy.
In this thesis the author attempts to answer the question "What
is the origin of serial homicide" by applying selected aspects
of the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Melanie Klein on two
case studies of South African serial killers. The author
formulates twenty nine statements of her own, based on the
theories of Freud and Klein which she applies to the two case
The cases of the "Station Strangler" in Mitchell's Plain, Cape
province, and the "St Charles serial killer" in Donnybrook, KwaZulu
Natal are selected. Both of these serial killers are
organized in their modus operandi, but the "Station Strangler"
is a ego-dystonic killer and the "St Charles serial killer" a
ego-syntonic serial killer.
The method of research is a qualitative case study method. The
author divides the selected aspects of Freud and Klein's theories
into categories and analyses the two cases presented according
to these categories. In the final chapter she draws maps to
illustrate the psychoanalytical developmental paths of serial
killers in general and for each of the two cases. Multiple data
sources are used for example interviews with the serial killers
and their families, police dockets, court proceedings and
psychiatric records. Multiple data sources, explanation building
and replication by way of multiple case studies are employed to
ensure construct validity, internal validity and external
validity respectively. Reliability is supported by entering the
data in a South African Police Service data base.
In conclusion the author compares the differences and
similarities between the two case studies, and discusses the
statements which are supported by this research. She also
recommends that those statements which are not supported, be
discussed in consecutive case studies. The statements are
generalized to all serial killers.