JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng, July 25, 2013 (AFP) - A South African man hung himself on the eve of his trial on charges of raping 34 children and two adults and infecting them with HIV, police said Thursday.
Wardens found Sifiso Makhubu, 42, dead in his one-man Johannesburg cell on Thursday morning, prisons spokesman Ofentse Morwane confirmed.
"According to our preliminary investigation he committed suicide at night using a piece of blanket," Morwane told AFP.
Makhubu was due in court on Thursday on 122 charges, ranging from "kidnapping, rape, robbery and attempted murder with HIV infection on all of his victims," said prosecution spokeswoman Phindi Louw.
He allegedly committed the crimes in the Kathorus, a township east of Johannesburg, from 2006 until 2011 -- when he was captured.
He was arrested after a victim recognised him and notified police.
Prosecutors confirmed Makhubu had previously been convicted, but did not immediately have more details.
Local television station ENCA reported some victims had already arrived at court and were waiting for the trial to begin in the morning, unaware that he had committed suicide.
With nearly 65,000 attacks a year, South Africa has one of the highest incidences of reported rape in the world.