On Monday, 20 January, police from Bethal: Detective Constable Xolani Khuzwayo and Detective Warrant Officer Abram Nkonde, arrested a 31-year-old male for possession of stolen property.
The arrest came after Constable Khuzwayo received a tip-off about a man carrying a yellow welding machine, suspected to be stolen, heading towards Bethal taxi rank. Both Constable Khuzwayo and Warrant officer Nkonde responded swiftly. They managed to arrest the suspect and confiscated the property.
The suspect was then taken to Bethal SAPS for detention and on arrival at the station the owner of the property, an elderly man, was about to report the matter only to realise that the police are with a suspect holding the welding machine.
The complainant was overwhelmed by the response of the police. He allegedly parked his vehicle in front of the pharmacy to pick up his medicine and when he returned, he was informed by a car guard that someone stole his welding machine.
The station commander at Bethal SAPS, Lt Col Petrus Nzima applauded the members for responding swiftly and ensured that they will bring the perpetrator to book. He also thanked the community for working together with the police in the fight against crime. The suspect will appear at Bethal Magistrates Court facing charges of possession of stolen property and theft.
Provincial Commissioner welcomes four life sentences
The Provincial Commissioner of Police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma, has welcomed four life sentences meted against 41-year-old Bheki Themba Simelane for murders which he committed in separate incidents at various places. The sentence was handed down on Friday, 17 January, by Judge Henk Roelofse at the High Court sitting in Graskop.
The Court heard how Simelane, who regards himself as a traditional healer, went on a killing spree between 2013 and 2016. Simelane’s main targets were car owners. On 16 November 2013, Mr Henry Twala, the owner of a Red VW Polo from Pienaar, was reported missing. Two days later, 18 November 2013, his lifeless body was found dumped in a river at Masoyi. A case of murder and robbery was opened and in addition, a theft of motor vehicle case was also opened after his family reported that his car had also gone missing. Police commenced with the investigations and on 30 November 2013, Simelane was arrested for being in possession of Twala’s VW Polo. Simelane escaped prosecution after the Public Prosecutor directed the police to pursue the matter further as the evidence against him, then, was not enough to secure a convict and Simelane was released.
Simelane’s next target was Mr Samuel Mandla Sithole, the owner of a Silver VW Polo and on 20 February 2014 his lifeless body was discovered inside a pit-toilet not far from Simelane’s place of residence. A case of murder was opened and on 26 March 2014, Simelane was arrested at a car wash in Matsulu for possession of Sithole’s car. Again, the evidence was not strong enough to convict Simelane of Sithole’s murder and as a result, he was released.
Simelane went on with his ‘modus operandi’, without hesitation, to terrorise his victims and on 28 December 2014, police found a body of Mr Tullen Mhlongo (50) at a dumping site at Kabokweni. Mhlongo was the owner of a Red Opel Corsa and an inquest docket, following his death, was investigated by police.
On 2 January 2015, the Mhlongo family further opened a theft of motor vehicle case as the family did not know the whereabouts of Mhlongo’s car. On 12 January 2015, Simelane was once again arrested for being in possession of Mhlongo’s Opel Corsa but was released on bail.
He moved on to his next victim unbeknownst that this would be his last time to strike. On 16 February 2016 the body of Ms Enika Ndlovu (56) was found at a house in Masoyi. During the gruesome discovery of her body, police also found a child in the house who was still alive but the investigations revealed that there were attempts, by the suspect, to harm or even kill the minor. Ndlovu’s death came at a time when she has just bought herself a brand-new Blue Ford Eco Sport two weeks earlier. Her car, a TV set and two cell phones were stolen. A case of murder and robbery was opened.
The Detectives worked around the clock and connected all the dots to crack the case. The Blue Ford Eco Sport was traced and recovered at a house in Dwarsloop near Bushbuckridge. Information was followed by the police which led to the arrest of Simelane on 22 May 2016. Simelane was positively linked to all the four robberies and the murder cases of Ndlovu, Mhlongo, Sithole and Twala. Simelane was finally found guilty on nine charges. He was convicted of four murders, one attempted murder and four robberies. On Friday 17 January, Judge Roelofse did not hesitate when handing down the judgement but indicated that Simelane was not fit to ever live free in society.
Simelane was given four life sentences for murder, ten years for attempted murder and fifteen years imprisonment for each of the four robberies.
“I would like to commend the sterling work done by the Detectives in solving these cases. Police have indeed displayed a high level of professionalism and working in partnership with the community as well as the Criminal Justice Cluster, we managed to remove Simelane from the society for good. Simelane has robbed families of their loved ones because of his greed and selfishness. People like Simelane should not be allowed to roam around the streets of our society freely whilst preying on defenceless victims. I urge the public to notify police of such criminals, so that we send them where they belong, “ said General Zuma.
Police launch search operation for a missing woman
The South African Police Service in Mpumalanga are looking for anyone who can assist in locating an 81-year-old woman who resides in Carolina.
Ntombana Linah Nkambule from Hillside farm in Carolina reportedly disappeared on Wednesday, 15 January.
Nkambule was last seen on 15 January and according to her granddaughter, Ms Velephi Sibongile Simelane, they went to bed that night at around 20h40. During the night Velephi was woken up by a sound of a banging door and Velephi immediately went out to check. Velephi realised that her granny had left the house and she tried to follow her whilst calling her but unfortunately the grandmother did not respond. She summoned others to assist her in searching for the old woman but all their efforts, after searching for two hours, did not yield any positive results.
The matter was reported to the police in Carolina and a file for a missing person was opened.
When Ntombana Linah Nkambule disappeared, she was wearing a green jersey, brown faskot and grey tekkies.
The police investigation and search operation are still continuing. The police appeal to anyone with information that can assist to locate the missing woman to contact Captain Ezekiel Mfana Msibi on 017 843 2107/0823189570 or alternatively call Crime Stop at 0860010111. Members of the public can also send SMS’s to 32211 or go to the nearest police station to report.
Communities encouraged to surrender firearms during amnesty period
Communities are encouraged to take advantage of the window period for the National Firearm Amnesty, as declared by the Minister of Police Bheki Cele, to hand in all unwanted and illegal firearms and ammunition. Communities can hand in those firearms and ammunition to any police station without any fear of being arrested unless those firearms were used in committing crime.
The Amnesty is part of government’s plan to deal with illegal and unwanted firearms in communities. It started in December 2019 and will be closed at the end of May this year. Mpumalanga communities have so far surrendered 173 firearms at different police stations across the province.
Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC, Gabisile Shabalala has applauded the individuals who have surrendered their unwanted firearms.
She said that removing firearms in communities will assist in ensuring that crime is reduced because it has been established that most of the crimes are committed by criminals using firearms.
“Reduction of firearms in circulation will go a long way towards the creation of safer communities. Crimes such as cash-in-transit robbery, murder, attempted murder, car and truck hijacking all types of robbery, sexual offences and others are committed by people mostly in possession of firearms,” she said.
Shabalala also makes a clarion call to those who have not surrendered their firearms to use this period to do the right thing.
The MEC added that after the amnesty period has lapsed, those who will be found in possession of unwanted firearms will face the full consequences of the law.
Therefore, the MEC insisted, communities should make full use of the amnesty period to free themselves of unwanted firearms and ammunition.
Suspect in court for R3.3million worth counterfeit goods
Gibson Mutero (46) appeared before the Komartipoort Magistrate Court on Tuesday, 14 January, after he was arrested by members of the Hawks` Serious Commercial Crime Investigation Mpumalanga together with Lebombo Border Police and Customs and Excise at Lebombo port of entry on Monday, 13 January, while transporting counterfeit goods from Mozambique to Johannesburg.
The suspect who was driving a Volvo Truck with two trailers was caught with R3.3million worth of counterfeit goods hidden under saw dust in the truck. During the search the team managed to uncover a series of branded sneakers, sandals, school bags and jeans. The brands included, amongst others; Nike, Adidas, Puma and Redbat.
The suspect was arrested whilst the truck and goods were taken to SARS Customs Warehouse for safe keeping.
Mutero was released on R4 500.00 bail after his residence and employment addresses were confirmed. The case has been postponed to 3 March for further investigation and obtaining of statements.