Pretoria - Premier David Makhura yesterday welcomed the arrest of alleged criminal kingpin Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela, referred to as Number 1 Tsotsi.
Makhura said Khekhe, who was linked to the murder of North West businessman Wandile Bozwana, had been on the run following a number of alleged crimes in Mamelodi and Atteridgeville.
“It is alleged by the community that Khekhe had made the two townships his golden den for his criminal activities.
“He is accused of unlawfully taking over other people’s businesses, forcing taxi owners to pay him protection fees, and eliminating his perceived enemies through the barrel of a gun.
“We are gradually winning the war against criminals. Those who have suffered under Khekhe’s wrath and criminal deeds must applaud the men and women in blue uniforms.
“Through (Operation) Okae Molao we will work tirelessly to put all criminals or dangerous class behind bars and reclaim our public spaces.”
Makhura said the arrest brought much-needed relief to the affected communities. “We applaud the police and provincial commissioner General Elias Mawela for apprehending this hardened criminal that has been terrorising our communities.”
After being on the run for a few days, Mathibela handed himself over to the Germiston Police Station on Tuesday night.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said he did not want to put lives in danger, and all he could say was that more people were coming forward with information.
“A lot of Mamelodi people are so happy right now and they are even calling me on my cellphone. We believe that Mathibela and his co-accused will be charged accordingly and prosecuted,” he said.
Police Minister Bheki Cele promised Makhura that Mathibela and other people who thought they were above the law would be arrested.
The minister and national police commissioner General Kehla Sitole first warned Mathibela when they addressed a public meeting about crime a few weeks ago with MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.
They repeated the call while introducing a police unit stationed in Mamelodi of 100 specially trained officers to safeguard the community.
Cele promised to end all extortion and intimidation and arrest people who thought they were “too big” that they could walk around Mamelodi with scores of bodyguards that carried and displayed firearms.
Mathibela is not the only suspect arrested as part of the clean-up.
Six others believed to be linked to him were arrested on March 8.
Four were arrested in Midrand and three of them were charged with possession of unlicensed firearms.
They appeared in Alexandra Magistrate’s Court and received R2000 bail each.
The fourth and fifth suspects, Mathibela’s sidekick Elias Skhosana and Kompi Stemmer Monageng, were charged with extortion, intimidation and assault. They appeared in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, where the matter was postponed to tomorrow for bail application. Cele said: “The long arm of the law knows no boundaries and will forever take its course no matter who you are. Residents of Mamelodi have been living in fear for far too long; the authority of the state will be felt and heard in all corners of South Africa.
“We shall continue to stay true to our mission as the police to prevent and combat anything that may threaten the safety and security of any community and investigate all crimes and further ensure that offenders are brought to justice.”
Mathibela was expected to appear at Pretoria Magistrate’s Court today.
Mathibela and Skhosana had always maintained they had nothing to do with the intimidation and extortion in Mamelodi. They accused Cele commenting without facts, claiming he was electioneering.