The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

Rural gang behind bars

PMB’s CAT team help arrest New Hanover’s feared hitmen

A SEVEN­MAN gang responsible for a series of housebreakings and farm attacks spent Christmas behind bars after police hiked 16 km through bush and forest to nab them.

The men, aged 22 to 28, appeared in the New Hanover Magistrate’s Court yesterday, facing charges of house robbery, murder and the possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. It is suspected that the gang also acted as hitmen.

Police sources said they believe the men were responsible for a spate of violent attacks in and around New Hanover, and were working to link the men to other incidents of murder and robbery in the town.

The men, who were remanded in custody until January 6, were allegedly behind the assault and robbery of a woman at her home in the Winterhaven area on the afternoon of December 18.

It is believed three of the men broke into the woman’s house while she was alone and attacked her at gunpoint, binding her hands with a shoe lace and beating her with the butt of the gun, before escaping with R40 in cash.

On the same day, the gang members allegedly murdered Msawenkosi Ndlovu (41) at his house on the Oakville Farm.

Ndlovu’s hands and feet were also bound with shoe lace before he was beaten to death. His body was then transported by car to a nearby dam, where it was dumped.

KZN police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said Ndlovu’s body was only found three days later. His hands and feet were still strung together when he was found.

Police sources close to the investigation also believe the men are linked to the murder of a woman who was shot dead in New Hanover on December 16.

The woman, who is believed to have run a stokvel in the area, was approached by two young men while she chatted to a friend.

The gunmen fired four shots into her chest after asking her name.

The incident happened around 5 pm and the woman was rushed to Northdale Hospital, where she died later that night.

“We believe this gang are not only house robbers, but also work as hired hitmen. They are notorious in the New Hanover area,” a police source said.

Their capture came after investigative work from New Hanover police, who tracked the men’s whereabouts. Extra muscle from Pietermaritzburg’s Combined Action Team (CAT) was used to effect the arrests.

The men were seized during a six­hour hunt through dense bush and forest in the Mpolweni area in the early hours of Thursday.

The team started at midnight and hiked more than 6 km to get to the first gang member’s home. They then walked another 10 km to locate the other suspects.

Zwane said a 9mm pistol was also recovered.

uMgungundlovu North cluster commander Brigadier Francis Bantham commended the officers involved in the arrest and warned criminals that “their time is up”.

“The arrests of these men shows the effectiveness of a united fight against crime. I congratulate all members involved in the arrest and ask that they keep up the good work going into 2016,” Bantham said.

“The police are ready to pursue the war against crime next year. We will not tolerate any criminality whatsoever as we strive to protect the community from any harm.”

CAT executive manager Nobin Karien said the team “is back in full force” and would be taking an active role in protecting communities in and around Pietermaritzburg.

“Our officers are working night and day to put criminals behind bars. This arrest is one of many to come,” Karien said

The Witness
AMIL UMRAW • amil.umraw@witness.co.za