Contemporary artist Clinton De Menezes, right in this picture taken in 2010, was shot dead in the Westville home of his friends, Amanda and Simon Malpas, left, in an armed robbery on Tuesday morning. The couple said De Menezes was a hero for trying to help Simon fend off robbers to protect them, his wife and child.

Four men charged with the murder of former Durban artist Clinton De Menezes are believed to have been involved in several house robberies in the Westville area, the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court heard.

Siyabonga China Khoza and Tevin Lungani Ngidi, both 23, Bongani Makhathini, 26, and Ntokozo Selby Langa, 27, might also be charged with attempted murder in another case.

They are being investigated by Pinetown police on other matters.

The four accused and three other men were arrested on Tuesday last week, soon after De Menezes, 43, was killed during a house robbery.

He and his family, who live in Kenya, had been visiting his friends, Simon and Amanda Malpas, at their Westville home.

He was shot on New Year’s Eve trying to protect his friends, his wife, Nicola, and seven-year-old daughter Eva.

The three other accused - Fisto Alimasi, 25, Mtimi Sumahili, 34, and Ngoy Assumani, 34 - appeared separately on Thursday on a charge of being in possession of stolen property. Charges were withdrawn against Sumahili and Assumani.

De Menezes had gone to the bathroom at the time the Malpases saw men climbing up the balcony and coming up the stairs on the opposite side.

Simon was involved in a scuffle with the men while his wife, Amanda, ran inside the house to Nicola and Eva, who were sleeping.

Unbeknown to Simon, De Menezes came to his aid and was in the firing line when a shot rang out.

The seven men were arrested hours after the attack. The first four face charges of murder, house robbery with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Alimasi, a Burundian, faces a possible robbery charge and could join the other four in the dock on the murder charge, because it is believed he owns a vehicle allegedly used in the robberies linked to the four men.

The four will appear in court again next week for a bail application.

Prosecutor Richard Dlungwane said Alimasi’s docket would go to the director of public prosecutions for a decision.

Alimasi’s Legal Aid attorney, Thobeka Bhengu, told the court she had not been aware of the move, and she had been instructed to apply for bail for her client on Thursday.

Dlungwane told the court the police had received information that Alimasi was the main person providing transport for the robberies.

Dlungwane said Westville police conducted an identity parade last week, and this was when they learnt the accused could be linked to other house robberies.

He said they might be charged with house robbery and attempted murder for these separate cases.

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