The case of 12 suspects charged with the murder of Alexandra residents, north of Johannesburg, has been postponed to the 16th of August for further police investigation and for their legal representatives to prepare for formal bail application.
The suspects, predominantly youths from KwaZulu-Natal, were arrested at the local Nobuhle Hostel shortly after a series of attacks and robberies last month.
Police investigations suggest the suspects travelling in private vehicles, robbed and shot people at random at the time. They made off with the victims’ cellphones, shoes and other valuables.
Alex FM DJ Joshua Mbatha and five other people were killed in separate incidents of armed robbery three weeks ago. 15 other people have been victims of gunshots and robberies by armed groups in the area.
This has prompted the deployment of additional JMPD officers to work with the police in patrolling the streets of this densely populated township.
Adolf Marema, a local councillor, says not much has improved. “Since the deployment of the extra 64 JMPD in Alex, there is not much of an impact it is making. Really there’s not much of an impact. Now we need additional police in the streets.”
“We are still waiting for the five cars that the Minister [Bheki Cele] has promised us. They were due last week Friday. We still waiting for more officers to be deployed here permanently”, says Marema.
A sentiment shared by residents. Some believe there’s an urgent need to bring in soldiers to fight the escalating crime in Alex.
“Yes, we want soldiers in the township. They are sitting there and paid for nothing. They are waiting for the third World War. When will that be? This crime is war they must come to fight it,” says a disgruntled resident.
Local business operators are also worried as incidents of robberies are witnessed in broad daylight. Sanny Zefa from Dubai has been running a cellphone business in Wynberg, the busiest business spot in Alex for the past three years. He says crime has increased over the last three years.
“Alex was good in the past and now the situation is affecting the business. With people fighting with guns and so on. In Sandton things are different. If they can bring in the soldiers to patrol it will be fine”, says Zefa.
The 12 suspects have been charged with murder, attempted murder, the possession of unlawful firearms and stolen goods, including cellphones. Residents are calling on the court not to grant the suspects bail when they appear again next week Tuesday.
Minister Bheki Cele announces police deployment to Alex 15 July:
Meanwhile, a man and two accomplices have been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Mtunzini Circuit Court for the murder of a relative, when they tried to take his minibus.
Nduduzo Ntuli – who transported children to school with the minibus – was attacked at his Maphumulo home north of Durban two years ago.
The court heard that Sabelo Mdletshe was recognised by Ntuli’s family who came out of the house as the robbers were trying to remove the victim’s body from the vehicle. Another accused – Phumlani Mjaza – was caught by Ntuli’s family and deprived of his firearm. Mdletshe and the third robber – Musa Phahla – were arrested later. NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara says the accused were found guilty of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
“The Mtunzini Circuit Court has sentenced 3 men to life and 10 years imprisonment following their conviction on robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder. One of them was sentenced to a further 10 years in prison for the unlawful possession of a firearm. They will serve an effective sentence of life imprisonment as the court ordered that the sentences run concurrently,” says Ramkisson-Kara.