Gang arrested for N3 murder

2008-04-06 00:00

The arrest this weekend of seven members of an alleged “glue sniffing” criminal gang that frequents the Church Street/Chota Motala Road off-ramp on the N3 could represent a major breakthrough in police investigations into attacks in the area, including hijack, murder, rape and robbery.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan confirmed the arrests of the seven suspects yesterday in connection with the murder of a woman found stabbed to death alongside the N3 last Thursday morning.

Nonkosi Zondi (35) was stabbed three times in the back.

Police investigators retraced her movements to the Estcourt area, where she and two friends — brother and sister Samuel Ntshalitshali and Elizabeth Ndimande — hitched a ride with a truck driver en route to Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday night. They were intending to purchase goods here to sell, said Jeevan.

At about 8 pm they were dropped off near the Church Street off-ramp and shortly afterwards were set upon by a group of about six men.

Ntshalitshali, Zondi and Ndimande fled in different directions.

Ntshalitshali headed towards Northdale, while Ndimande fled along the N3 in fear for her life and eventually hitched another lift, this time to the Mariannhill toll plaza.

Meanwhile, Zondi is thought to have been stabbed and robbed by the gang of her possessions, and her body dumped at the off-ramp.

When her body was discovered the following morning by police, her handbag, cellphone and an undisclosed amount of money were missing.

Jeevan said the brother and sister contacted one another via cellphone in the early hours of that morning and returned to the area where the attack happened in search of their friend.

Jeevan said members of the Mountain Rise police and detective branch conducted a joint investigation and at the weekend questioned about 12 members of the “glue-sniffing” gang that frequents the N3 off-ramp in question. Seven men, including a 42-year-old suspected of being the ringleader, were arrested and are expected to appear in court today.

Jeevan said some members of the group have been positively linked to at least two cases of rape and one of murder.

Police are appealing to the public who have been victims of crime in the area to come forward with information that might assist investigators.

“We believe that this gang is responsible for numerous serious crimes … including hijacking, robberies, murder and rape.” Anyone with information can contact Inspector Vusi Shabangu at 033 387 9630 or 082 308 0234 or Captain Pat Haffajee at 083 231 6496.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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