Hawks hot on the heels of more suspects linked to Babita Deokaran’s murder
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Johannesburg - The Hawks are hot on the heels of more suspects behind the execution of Gauteng health official Babita Deokaran.
On Monday, six men made a brief appearance at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court in connection with the hit-like killing that shocked the country last week.
Deokaran was ambushed and gunned down outside her Winchester Hills, Joburg south, home last week Monday. She had reportedly just returned from dropping her child at school.
Her killing is suspected to be linked to her role in the probe into dodgy personal protective equipment contracts in the province. She was reportedly a key witness.
It emerged at the weekend that police had cracked the case and arrested seven male suspects. But it became apparent in court yesterday that six men had actually been arrested.
They are Phakamani Hadebe, Zitha Hadebe, Sanele Mbele, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Siphiwe Mazibuko and Phakanyiswa Dladla.
The men appeared calm in the dock on Monday when the matter was postponed to September 13 for their formal bail applications.
They faced charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and possession of unlicensed arms and ammunition.
After the brief proceedings, Joburg spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Phindi Mjonondwane, told reporters the seventh man was released because there was nothing linking him to Deokaran’s killing.
He was only found in the company of one of the accused.
“Charges are not provisionally withdrawn. He was not charged at all because currently we don’t have any evidence that suggests that he is linked to the alleged crime,” Mjonondwane said.
Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said more arrests were imminent.
“We still have outstanding suspects we are looking into. There’s intelligence that we’re working with and following up on. We can confirm that more arrests are imminent,” Mulamu said.
She would not specify when these suspects would be nabbed.
“Time frame is very important, but we cannot stand here and say within the next 24 hours the suspects would have been brought into detention. But we are very much sure that … all the suspects will be brought to book.”
She revealed none of the six already charged were government officials.
“None of the suspects who appeared in court this morning are any Department of Health officials.”
There were indications that the six were izinkabi, a term which loosely be translated to hitmen. They are men largely hired in KZN to execute targets countrywide.
“All the suspects are from KZN. None of them are Gauteng residents and they were all arrested in KZN,” Mulamu said.
While there were reports that one made a confession, Mjonondwane would not comment, saying that such information would form part of the State’s case and would be divulged in court.
“Evidence will be led in court. The media and the public will have more information (on the alleged confession once the matter is ventilated in court,” Mjonondwane said.
“We cannot start now revealing the kind of evidence that the State has. We’re not yet at that stage. More of those details will be revealed in court in due time.”