A 49-year-old school principal and a 42-year-old man were arrested by Limpopo police in connection with the murder of Dr Malekutu Johannes Mehlape, the circuit manager for the Limpopo education department.
Mehlape was gunned down at his Mankweng Zone 1 home on December 28, during a suspected robbery where assailants demanded money before shooting him dead.
“Following further intensive investigation, two suspects were arrested separately, on Wednesday, January 24. The principal, aged 49, was arrested at Moremadi Park after the warrant of arrest was issued,” said Limpopo police spokesperson, Colonel Malesela Ledwaba.
“Then, positive leads resulted in the arrest of a 42-year-old man, who was found in his hiding spot at Mahwelereng Zone 1. He was found in possession of ammunition and a 9mm firearm with grinded-off serial number.”
Preliminary investigations have since revealed that the recovered 9mm firearm was utilised during the murder of Mehlape.
On Thursday, the two accused men are set to appear before the Mankweng Magistrate's Court, alongside their three accomplices who include Dr Mehlape’s 28-year-old daughter, Mologadi Mehlape, Hlolofelo Mogotlane, 33, and Tshepo Ranoto, 34.
The five are facing charges of murder, possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition. They are expected to submit formal bail applications to the court.
“In the past weeks, the three suspects (Mologadi Mehlape, Mogotlane, and Ranoto) were arrested separately in Mankweng and Zebediela by a team of investigators, including the provincial tracking team, provincial murder and robbery members, as well as private security companies,” said Ledwaba.
Police have not explained how Mologadi was linked to her father’s death.
During the arrest of the initial three suspects, Ledwaba said a double cab Ford Ranger, which was allegedly used to commit the heinous crime, was confiscated.
“According to information received, the deceased's daughter was ambushed when she returned from a function and forced inside the house. The suspects demanded to know the whereabouts of Dr Mehlape and robbed one of two people they had rounded up inside,” said Ledwaba.
“The armed suspects then combed the house and found Dr Mehlape. They allegedly demanded cash, and after he gave them, they shot him and fled the scene.”
Meanwhile, acting provincial commissioner of police in Limpopo, Major General Jan Scheepers has saluted the arresting team for “working relentlessly” in arresting more suspects linked to the murder case.
Earlier this month, IOL reported that Dr Mehlape was buried on January 6, and the provincial education 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,” said MEC Lerule-Ramakhanya.
“I was looking forward to seeing him and other hard-working colleagues when we award our top matric achievers in January.”