Eastern Cape police top brass have hailed the breakthrough in what has been described as hit murders to claim insurance pay-outs, following the arrest of seven suspects believed to be behind at least 11 murders.
The suspects, aged between 40 and 52, were expected to appear in the Kariega Magistrate’s Court to face charges of at least 11 murder cases, of which two were double murders in Kwanobuhle.
They have also been charged with racketeering and fraud relating to several insurance claims that were submitted on deceased persons for 11 deaths, as well as illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
A multidisciplinary operation was conducted at about 1am on Friday, where warrants of arrests were executed at the residence of six suspects in Kwanobuhle and Despatch in Gqeberha.
During the arrests, the team consisting of the Commercial Crimes Units from Cradock, Uitenhage and Gqeberha; Provincial Anti-Gang Unit in Gqeberha; Public Order Police in Gqeberha; SAPS Kwanobuhle and Despatch detectives confiscated a firearm, three magazines, 95 live rounds of ammunition and two cellphones.
“The suspects were wanted in several murder cases where the motive for the killings were driven by greed and deception (insurance claims).
“The arrests were made after more than 10 months of intense investigations by the Queenstown Murder and Robbery and Cradock Commercial Crimes Investigation Unit which linked the syndicate to numerous hit killings in Kwadwesi, Kwanobuhle, Despatch, Whittlesea and Kamesh.
“The suspects were connected to these cases through ballistic linkages and insurance policies,” said police spokesperson Priscilla Naidu.
The seventh suspect is at St Albans Prison awaiting trial on a possession of a firearm charge.
“This suspect will join his six co-accused when they appear in court.”
Eastern Cape police commissioner Nomthetheleli Mene hailed the officers for their work.
She said they worked tirelessly to pursue justice in a case that hit at the heart of the community’s safety.
“These arrests are a testament to the unwavering commitment and professionalism of our law enforcement officers who worked diligently to bring these perpetrators to book.
“Their dedication has not only removed a dangerous threat from our streets but also sends a clear message that crime will not go unpunished.
“However, it must be noted that this breakthrough would not have been possible without the outstanding collaboration between our investigators, the National Prosecuting Authority and our partners in the insurance industry.
“This success marks the beginning of our fight against organised crime.
“I am convinced that it will open doors for more arrests, dismantling criminal networks that threaten our communities.”