Gang sipped finest liquor while terrorising Pietermaritzburg residents
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DURBAN - ON SUNDAY, police, through an intelligence-driven operation, arrested four men linked to the seven gang members who were fatally shot in Pietermaritzburg last week.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said police had been tracing the suspects who were at large and received information on their whereabouts.
“The team went to a lodge in Woodhouse Road, not far from where seven suspects were fatally wounded last week, and pounced on the men. Four were placed under arrest. Each suspect was found in possession of an illegal pistol and ammunition. They are aged between 18 and 30.”
Mbele said the arrested suspects were linked to a string of murder cases committed in Pietermaritzburg, Imbali, Richmond and Bergville.
They were also linked to robbery, rape and aggravated assault.
The men are due to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
KwaZulu-Natal provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said: “The Pietermaritzburg District was engulfed with murder cases, executed by the same gang. They are linked to the ongoing gang operations in the areas.
“We will not rest until we arrest all those who are linked to causing the instability in Pietermaritzburg and in the province. Our operations are still ongoing and all those involved in these criminal acts, including those high-profile individuals (business people and politicians), will be arrested.
“We will not rest until there is peace and stability in our province.”
Meanwhile, the alleged prison break mastermind Sphelele Ntsuntsu Mkhize, 35, who was among the seven shot in the police shoot-out, in Scottsville last Thursday, was buried on Saturday.
Last week, Police Minister Bheki Cele said Mkhize and his gang had “lived a good life”.
“Every room (of their hangout) had very expensive liquor, such as cognac and whiskey. Every room had a very big flat screen television. There were three cars, two of which were established to have been stolen.”
Cele said almost of the gang members died with their guns in their hands. One gang member had an AK-47 rifle.
He said the people of Pietermaritzburg had requested protection from the government because this gang was terrorising them.
“The police commissioner deployed 50 more police officers in the area to deal with the gangsterism.”
Cele said the gang had increased the rape, murder and robbery statistics in the city, resulting in Plessislaer police station having the highest number of reported murder cases in the country.
Mkhwanazi described Mkhize as a heartless man, who was involved in man cases and, in almost every one of them, would find a way to kill witnesses.
“You will find that when he goes to court, he will get to know who’s testifying and who’s related to who, and he will find a way of communicating with people outside and have those witnesses killed,” Mkhwanazi said.
Mkhize also had a way of intimidating witnesses.
“When we put our witnesses into the protection programme, Mkhize could not find them.
“And that’s when he became desperate to get out of prison,” Mkhwanazi said.
He said the police investigation revealed that Mkhize was behind the prison break in April, when 45 prisoners escaped.
“The whole escape was planned by him and his group and, by default, others also took an opportunity to get out,” Mkhwanazi said.
Of the 45 prisoners who had escaped, 10 remain at large.