Local DA prosecutes serial rapist

Published 6:43 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2014



A suspected serial rapist was convicted of one of the crimes by a Dare County Superior Court jury last week.

Lesibe Simon Matsoake, a native of South Africa, was sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison for the crime that occurred in Kill Devil Hills on June 10, 2003. Matsoake has also been charged in four more rape cases, one of which took place in Duck in 2003 and three more that took place in Virginia Beach between 2004 and 2006. The Kill Devil Hills trial was the first of the cases to be heard.

Judge Wayland Sermons Jr. presided over the trial that also had Second Judicial District Attorney Seth Edwards standing in for First Judicial District Attorney Andy Womble. Womble is the former head public defender for the First Judicial District, who was appointed last year after the sudden death of DA Frank Parrish. Before Womble’s appointment, he had represented Matsoake.

“Just to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in a case of this nature, (Womble thought) it was best that his office not have anything to do with it,” Edwards said. “The way Andy presented it to me was, for the cases he had personal involvement in, he, as a DA, does not need to defend it.”

Edwards was the prosecuting attorney at last week’s trial.

According to Edwards, Matsoake fled the U.S. to South Africa in 2007 after learning he was a suspect in the string of sexual assaults in North Carolina and Virginia beach towns. At the time, Matsoake and his wife were living in Virginia Beach — his wife, in 2007, called Virginia investigators and gave them the evidence needed to link the assaults to a single perpetrator. Matsoake had left behind hair clippers when he fled the country and it was DNA from the hair clippers that matched DNA collected in all five cases, Edwards said.

Attempts to bring Matsoake back to the U.S. to stand trial went on for several years.

“In this particular case, I think Interpol got involved, and U.S. Customs. I don’t really know what happened in South Africa, but he obviously fought it for several years, and ultimately the South African courts ruled that he could be extradited,” Edwards said.

Matsoake has been incarcerated at the Dare County Detention Center since his return to the country in 2012.

Edwards said he is scheduled to be the prosecuting attorney for Matsoake’s next trial, for the rape of a woman in Duck that occurred less than two weeks after the first one in Kill Devil Hills. The victim of that rape, however, has moved overseas and is unlikely to return for a trial. This puts Edwards into a holding pattern — he said he will likely wait to see what the outcome is with the other cases in the Virginia courts before he makes a decision to pursue the Duck case.