Crime rampage halted

2009-11-30 00:00

PRAISE has been heaped on the police team who this weekend arrested three suspects, including a police inspector from Howick police station, for murder and for the possession of stolen property after retired government official Dr Warwick Dorning (55) was shot dead on his farm earlier this month.

Another suspect was shot dead on Saturday morning when he tried to evade arrest, and allegedly first shot at police.

The suspects, who were yesterday pointing out aspects of the murder scene to police, have been linked to recent farm attacks in the Petrustroom area, including three house robberies and a housebreaking, in which household items, jewellery and firearms were stolen. It is believed that in at least one instance, the victim had a cheese grater applied to his skin.

Dorning was shot and killed by three armed men at his farm, Adamshurst, near Howick on Saturday, November 7. The suspects ran away with items stolen from the house.

His wife Dawn was not injured in the 8 pm attack.

Police provincial spokes­wo­man Director Phindile Radebe said two suspects were arrested by the members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DCPI) from Pietermaritzburg in the early hours of Saturday morning.

They were charged with murder and armed robbery.

Radebe said a 9mm pistol, a revolver and a .38 pistol, as well as two cellphones, were recovered from the suspects.

She confirmed that they were positively linked with three other farm attack cases, but could not give details of these yesterday. She confirmed that the police inspector was found in possession of items belonging to Dorning stolen on the night he was murdered.

All three suspects, aged between 21 and 26, will appear in Howick Magistrate’s Court today.

Police confronted a suspect, whom they later shot dead, Sphamandla Madlala (26), in a room of a house in Thokozani, Cramond.

He allegedly brandished a .38 pistol at police before diving out of a window. Police ran around to the outside to arrest him, but he fired two shots at them. The police fired back, killing him.

It is believed that police were led to the house after they had questioned a suspect in custody for another farm robbery. He told police about a firearm he believed was the murder weapon used to kill Dorning and later made indications to the police, who then were pointed in the direction of the other suspects at Cramond.

Madlala is believed to be from the Mafakhathini area.

Radebe said police worked around the clock to catch Dorning’s killers.

“It was hard, hard work.”

She said the new KZN police commissioner, Monnye Ngobeni, has commen­ded the DCPI team for its success.

Dorning recently took early retirement from his post as chief of staff in the Office of the Premier.

His widow, Dawn, said she was “very happy the arrests have been made”.

“There is some justice. The Premier’s office and the police have given us lots of support and have been wonderful. It’s been a very tough time for us.”

The KZN Agricultural Union’s safety desk head, Koos Marais, said they are delighted. He said there is a successful arrest and conviction rate of around 80% on farm attacks.

“That excites us. We commend the police on their excellent work and trust that the rest of the justice system will now play its part in combating crime.”

When told of the arrests by The Witness, Dorning’s friend, former finance MEC Peter Miller, said he is deligh­ted.

He said the fact that a policeman had been arrested in possession of Dorning’s property is a “warning to police management” that they should “root out the rotters”.

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