Cape Town - A qualified teacher who became one of the most wanted and allegedly most dangerous criminals in the Western Cape.
This is how police described Yanga Nyalara, known as Bara, who is now behind bars.
Heavily armed police officers gathered at the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Monday as Nyalara made a brief appearance, wearing a black puffy jacket, with Police Minister Bheki Cele and provincial police Commissioner Thembisile Patekile in attendance.
Some officers in uniform were inside the court, while others were stationed outside.
The 30-year-old ex teacher is facing 31 charges including 18 murders, Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) offences, attempted murders, illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and possession of drugs.
Among the murder cases is the Site B, Khayelitsha May 2021 mass shooting spree, believed to be a gang extortion-related crime.
Thirteen people were shot dead in one of Khayelitsha’s bloodiest mass shootings in May last year when members belonging to one of the suspected extortion gangs circulated an image of the leader of their rival gang lying on the ground with a gunshot wound.
According to the charge sheet, Nyalara from Browns Farm, Philippi was allegedly a “prominent member of a criminal gang which engages in a range of criminal activities, not limited to extortion of informal businesses, in among other areas, Khayelitsha, and commits violent criminal acts aimed at instilling fear in the owners of these informal businesses, to induce them to pay money to the criminal gang, but also aimed at violently eliminating competing criminal gangs”.
NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “(Nyalara) abandoned his right to bail and his case was postponed to August 18. More charges are likely to be added as the investigation continues”.
The police breakthrough followed an intelligence-driven operation on July 1 which led to his arrest in Bothasig.
Police have been hunting for Nyalara for months and resorted to offering a R50 000 cash reward, later escalated to R100 000.
According to police spokesperson Andrè Traut, members of Operation Restore reacted to information and early on Friday morning conducted a search at a residence in Nassau Street where the suspect and two females, aged 21 and 28, were arrested.
They were allegedly in possession of tik and mandrax with a combined value of R90 000.
“The male suspect is also wanted on a string of crimes ranging from business robbery, murder, attempted murder, assault, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition,” said Traut.
Cele revealed that Nyalara was also in the taxi industry and owned eight vehicles. “He is returning back to court next month and this will give police time to investigate all matters including if he is involved in the taxi industry violence in the Western and Eastern Cape.
He is originally from Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape and has been moving between the two provinces.”
Cele also hailed police, saying they were making good strides.
“We believe the arrest of Bara will assist in solving many other cases. He might have been the mastermind behind some of the incidents but there are definitely people he worked with,” he said.
Meanwhile Patekile said police were expecting to make more arrests related to incidents in which Nyalara was allegedly involved.