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Johannesburg - A man recently arrested for his possible involvement in a series of murders of gay men is expected to appear in court alongside his cousin later this month.
Nhlanhla Msimango was arrested last month for a hijacking in Dobsonville, Soweto. Two weeks later, after the family of one of the victims approached investigators with information, Nhlanhla was identified as the prime suspect in the murder of Siphiwe Selby Nhlapo, one of several gay men killed across Gauteng.
Now his cousin, Phumlani Msimango, who was also in custody for breaking into Nhlapo’s home on the night of the murder, has allegedly been linked to the killing.
Investigators revealed in November last year they suspected a gang was moving between Gauteng and the Western Cape and killing homosexual men, after media reports emerged linking the deaths of eight Gauteng victims.
Nhlanhla is being profiled to determine if he is linked to the gang and any of the other murders.
Nhlapo was found strangled in his Kliptown, Soweto, home in September 2011, with acid poured over his face.
Phumlani was arrested and sentenced last year for housebreaking and robbery after invading Nhlapo’s home on the night of the murder.
At the time, he put all the blame for the murder on Nhlanhla, who has been on the run for more than a year.
But The Star has learnt that Phumlani will now also be charged with the murder, after Nhlanhla appeared at the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Nhlapo’s cousin, Trevor Danibe, told The Star he had been introduced to Nhlanhla on the same day Nhlapo was murdered.
Nhlanhla was later spotted by Danibe at Nhlapo’s night vigil.
The Star also learnt that Nhlanhla was arrested last year in connection with Nhlapo’s murder, but investigators allegedly couldn’t make the case stick and he was released.
Danibe and almost a dozen other relatives arrived at court on Tuesday, convinced that Nhlanhla was guilty of the murder.
“I want him to suffer, he must go down. He must be sentenced… a life sentence. He didn’t just kill a person, he killed a great person,” Danibe said.
The only other arrests linked to the serial murders came in the case of Norwood resident Barney van Heerden, 39. Three men were arrested for the crime, and their trial is due to begin next month, but they have not been forensically linked to any of the other crimes.
The series of eight murders in Gauteng began with the killing of Manolis Veloudos in April 2010. This was followed in 2011 by the deaths of Jim Cathels, Oscar O’Hara, 33, Nhlapo, 36, a 47-year-old unnamed landlord and Van Heerden.
HIV activist Jason Wessenaar was killed in his home in December 2011 and theatre manager Rulov Senekal was found dead on February 25 last year.
Police have confirmed there are other cases in Cape Town they believe are linked to the group.