The missing woman, Rebecca Maleswena of Moganyaka village in the Marble Hall policing area. Picture: SAPS

Polokwane - Police in Marble Hall near Groblersdal have made a major breakthrough with the arrest of three suspects in connection with the disappearance of a 38-year-old local woman, Limpopo police said on Saturday.

A dedicated South African Police Service (SAPS) team comprising of detectives and crime intelligence officers worked tirelessly around the clock since the mysterious disappearance of  Rebecca Maleswena on February 28 from Moganyaka village at Marble Hall, Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said. 

"During the ongoing operation and investigations in this matter, Suliman Makambira aged 39, was arrested at Meadowlands in the Gauteng province, whereas Lucky Mmaphafudi aged 30, and Selina Phiri aged 40, were both arrested in Marble Hall. Phiri was first to be arrested a few days after Maleswena's disappearance and appeared before the Marble Hall Magistrate's Court. She was denied bail and the case was postponed to the 23rd April 2019 for bail application and for further police investigations," Ngoepe said.

The other two suspects were arrested this week and appeared in the Marble Hall Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. They were denied bail until their next court appearance on April 9 for bail application and for further police investigations. The suspects face a charge of kidnapping.

The arrest of the three came after Maleswena, an employee at a medical surgery in Marble Hall, was reported missing on February 28 by her family after she failed to return home, Ngoepe said.

Picture: SAPS

"It is alleged that the victim received a phone call from an unknown woman who arranged to meet her at a restaurant next to the Marble Hall taxi rank. She boarded a taxi from her home and was never seen again."

Police followed up information of a possibility that her body might have been thrown into the crocodile-infested Olifants River in Leewfontein. A police search and rescue team was immediately activated and a search operation in the river ensued for several days, but with no success.

Picture: SAPS

"The three arrested suspects are positively linked to the disappearance of the victim. The motive behind this incident is not clear at this stage. The police search operation for the missing woman and the investigations into the kidnapping charges are still under way," Ngoepe said. 

Anyone with information that could assist the police in finding the missing woman should contact Captain Richard Boshomane at 079-894-5501, or the crime stop number 08600-10111 or the crime line SMS 32211, or the nearest police station. 

African News Agency/ANA