Johannesburg - Florence Mojela* saw Emmanuel Sithole’s killers on Saturday, but she was too scared to stop them.
However, she wasn’t prepared to let them get away with murder.
She wanted to help Sithole on Saturday morning by giving him a lift to the nearby Alexandra Clinic after he had been stabbed by the men in Second Avenue, but she was scared that the four thugs would turn on her.
Instead, she tried to help him by pointing out where the clinic was.
To make sure the coast was clear, Mojela drove around the block. When she returned, Sithole was gone. He had been put into a journalist’s car and taken to Edenvale Hospital.
But Mojela had found out where two of the men had fled to; one to Gandhi Square informal settlement, formerly known as Beirut, and the other to the Second Avenue informal settlement.
On Sunday, just after 3pm, she phoned Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and told her everything she knew. Four hours later, three suspects were in custody, with a fourth still at large.
“(Mojela) indicated that she had seen the two suspects,” Nkosi-Malobane said. “She told me that one went to Gandhi Square informal settlement and the other to the Second Avenue settlement.
“Thanks to her information, the police unit which was already conducting the investigation decided to seal off the two communities.
“They blocked all exit and entry points of the two informal settlements, and it yielded results, with the arrests of the three suspects,” Nkosi-Malobane said.
Early on Tuesday morning, police said that the fourth suspect had been arrested in Alexandra on Monday night.
Nkosi-Malobane and Gauteng deputy police commissioner Major-General Teko Pharasi announced on Monday that a total of 154 suspects had been arrested at the weekend across Gauteng in connection with various xenophobic attacks in the province since last Monday.
Pharasi added the police would oppose bail if Sithole’s alleged killers tried to get released.
Nkosi-Malobane and Pharasi maintained that Sithole’s murder was a criminal act and not xenophobic.
Sithole, they said, had been running a stall, selling various items. His alleged killers had come to his stall earlier and taken some of the items without paying for them.
“He was merely following those guys and demanded to be paid. When he failed to recover his money, he returned to his stall.
“His alleged killers then followed him, and without any provocation, began to stab him,” Nkosi-Malobane said.
The four suspects were expected to appear in the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on charges of murder with aggravating circumstances and theft.
If convicted, the murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison because a weapon was used to carry out the deadly act.
The police were confident on Monday that they had apprehended the perpetrators.
SAPS spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini was quoted by 702 as saying: “Several exhibits that may be used as evidence were seized during the arrests.”
Nkosi-Malobane has approached indunas (headmen) from the hostels situated in Gauteng to help curb the xenophobia.
The indunas will host a series of hostel meetings throughout the week during which the Gauteng provincial government will address them, with the last consultation hosted by Premier David Makhura at Turffontein Race Course on Sunday., where he is to address them.
*Not the person’s real name