Now he faces 33 charges, which include armed robbery and rape
It took a special police unit to unravel the bizarre identity mess and charge a most-wanted criminal with 33 counts of armed robbery, rape, housebreaking and theft.
Ndlovu, due in court today, allegedly operated for years in Johannesburg's Parkview, Rosebank, Linden, Norwood, Yeo-ville, Sandringham and Hillbrow suburbs.
Had he not been caught out, he would have gone on trial for a single case of housebreaking.
The story began when Parkview police station's tracing unit - set up two months ago - was instructed to execute a warrant of arrest for a David Pietboy Shuma.
Questioning people in Soweto and Evaton, south of Johannesburg, they discovered that Shuma was in fact Patrick Ndlovu.
His fingerprints reportedly had been left at more than a dozen crime scenes around town, and police positively linked him to 11 counts of armed robbery, seven of housebreaking and theft, as well as one rape.
Later, police linked a further 13 charges to their suspect.
Acting on a tip-off, police visited Johannesburg Prison and found Ndlovu sitting there under the name of Peter Kgomo.
Ndlovu, born in KwaZulu Natal, grew up in Soweto and allegedly broke into houses between 1995 and 1997. He was a "lone ranger", always working alone.
Police said he would look for an easy access point, usually picking an open door or sliding gate. His aim was theft but he always carried a gun. If disturbed, he held his victims at gunpoint and continued the robbery.
During one of his alleged Parkview attacks he stabbed a domestic worker. She survived. In another, he allegedly raped a woman.
Ndlovu (54) was previously sentenced to 10 years for housebreaking. He served about five years and was released on parole in March.
A mere two weeks later he was bust during a housebreaking in Parkview.
He was awaiting trial for this case when the task team found him in prison last week. He had been denied bail.
Police have added 18 new charges to his docket and will add a further 14 within the next few court appearances.
For now Ndlovu is still on the court roll as Kgomo, but police said that would soon be rectified.
National Commissioner Jackie Selebi congratulated his men for linking Ndlovu to the litany of crimes and making sure he was prosecuted.
"Our members on the ground are clocking up successes. We congratulate them," said Selebi's spokesperson, Director Sally de Beer.
By Alex Eliseev The Star