December 10 - A roadside view of some of the complexes at Umlazi's Glebelands Hostel in Durban. Photo: ANA

Durban – Another suspected hitman linked to Umlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel in Durban was arrested on Saturday night, bringing the total arrests of suspects linked to a string of killings at the hostel to seven, KwaZulu-Natal police said.

An intelligence-driven operation led to the arrest of the 29-year-old suspect at Highflats in the Ixopo area in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, Lt-Col Thulani Zwane said.

The man had been sought for two counts of murder. “The suspect will also be charged for attempted murder as well as other cases. During previous operation on 6 December, the suspect managed to evade arrest. He was traced to the premises he was now hiding at,” Zwane said.

On Friday, five other accused linked to murders at the hostel appeared in the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court, including police officer Sergeant Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, 37. He appeared alongside Vukani Mcobothi, 25, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, 32, Wonderboy Hlophe, 37, and Matlala Mdweshu Ntshangase, 35. They were all remanded in custody to December 11 to arrange for defence.

The sixth accused, Doris Kati Odwa, 26, appeared separately on another case of attempted murder and was also remanded in custody to December 11.

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The massive hostel complex, which houses an estimated 22,000 residents, has seen a spate of murders over the past few years. Several witnesses testifying before the Moerane Commission of Inquiry – tasked with investigating political killings in the province – have testified that Glebelands is a haven for hitmen who operate throughout KwaZulu-Natal and other provinces, upon the authority of politicians, police officers, and henchmen. 

After the initial arrests last week, BrigadierJay Naicker said investigators “encountered countless difficulties in trying to untangle the web surrounding the Glebelands murders”. 

Obstacles included reluctant witnesses, missing witnesses, witness being killed, negative perceptions from different sectors of the communities, and information being discussed on various public platforms, thus keeping suspects informed of police action.

“Amid all those adversities, our crime intelligence gathered enough information and identified suspects linked to the shootings at Glebelands. The information was handed over to the provincial organised crime investigating team and on the strength of the evidence gathered, warrants of arrests were issued for the identified suspects” Naicker said.

More than 90 people have been killed in violence linked to the hostel since 2014. A specialised task team has been established to investigate the killings and a satellite police station was launched on the Glebelands premises earlier this month.