The Limpopo police have arrested a close relative of a Department of Education official who was murdered mysteriously in a suspected house robbery in December.
Dr Malekutu Johannes Mehlape, the circuit manager for the Limpopo Department of Education, was gunned down at his Mankweng Zone I home on December 28 during a suspected robbery, where they demanded cash and shot him dead.
His 28-year-old daughter is now under police custody and has appeared at the local regional court, along with two suspects in connection with his murder.
Limpopo provincial police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said officers made a breakthrough in the case over the weekend when they arrested two suspects, Hlolofelo Mogotlane, 33, and Tshepo Ranoto, 34.
The deceased's 28-year-old daughter, Mologadi Mehlape, had been apprehended first, police said, but did not disclose how they believed she was linked to her father’s death.
All three suspects appeared at the Mankweng Magistrate's Court on Monday, where the case was postponed to next Monday, January 22, pending further investigation.
Ledwaba said the suspects were facing murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and ammunition charges.
The case was postponed until January 22, 2024, for formal bail application.
Detailing the arrest process, Ledwaba explained that the two male suspects were apprehended in the early hours of Saturday in Zebediela. The arrest was carried out by a collaborative effort involving a team of investigators, the tracking team, members from the murder and robbery units, and private security companies that assisted the police.
“During the arrest, a double cab Ford Ranger, which was allegedly used in the commission of the crime, was confiscated,” said Ledwaba.
It is unclear why the daughter was arrested, but the police statement released said the police’s own preliminary investigations found that the daughter had been ambushed when she returned from a function and forced inside the house.
“The suspects demanded to know the whereabouts of Mehlape and robbed one of two people they had rounded up inside.
“The armed suspects then combed the house and found Mehlape. They allegedly demanded cash, and after he gave them it, they shot him and fled the scene,” said Ledwaba.
Dr Mehlape was buried on January 6, and the department held a memorial service in his honour at the University of Limpopo, Tiro Hall.
The department said Dr Mehlape was also the head of exams and assessments for the Mankweng Cluster and was dedicated to the development and dignity of learners and teachers in the Mankweng Cluster.
Limpopo Education MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya at the time said Dr Mehlape had diligently led one of the best-performing circuits for 15 years in the Capricorn South District.
He said it was a great loss to the sector, and his passing would leave a big void in the district, where he was responsible for overseeing 12 secondary and 18 primary schools.
“I am saddened by the sad news of the passing of one of the brilliant minds in the education sector, our circuit manager, Dr. Mehlape.
“My sincere condolences to his children who were in the house when the criminals took his life.
“I was looking forward to seeing him and other hard-working colleagues when we award our top matric achievers in January,” said MEC Lerule-Ramakhanya.