Three die in Howick ‘gang killings’

2011-09-02 00:00

THREE men were murdered in the early hours of Sunday morning in Mpophomeni near Howick, sparking fears of gang related activity there once again.

Sabelo Mthembu (25), Themba Madlala (32), Christopher Mnkathi (27) and four other friends were watching a soccer match at a nearby tavern on Saturday night.

One of the friends decided to go home, but came back a few minutes later asking the rest of the group to accompany him.

A survivor of the attack, Hlakaniphani Mthembu, said the friend had turned around because the suspects must have blocked his way.

“We decided to leave together and while walking the three thugs appeared from behind trucks which were parked on the road side.

“One of them pointed a firearm at us while the other two produced knives and demanded money and cellphones.

“They started searching and stabbing us in the process, but I managed to run away before they got to me,” said Mthembu.

Another friend also managed to run away while two were stabbed and landed in hospital.

Three suspects were arrested in connection with the murders.

Themba Madlala’s father, Shakes Ntombela, said his son was stabbed six times while Mthembu was stabbed nine times.

“There’s a problem of gangsterism in Mpophomeni and boys from outside the area would come here and cause trouble.

“Just last week a woman was raped and her throat was slit.

“Youngsters here are members of rival gangs called the 26 and the 28 which are named after hard-core prison gangs and for one to get promoted to an upper rank of the gang, one has to commit either rape or murder, or both. I’m so devastated at losing my son in this fashion,” said Ntombela.

The Witness had reported a number of gang-related murders in Mpophomeni with a recent one happening in October 2010 where Zitha Kunene and a friend, Sbonelo Makhathini (both in their early 20s), were hacked to death in what is believed to be a revenge attack after a man believed to belong to the “26” or “28” prison gang was stabbed.

Howick police spokesperson Captain Lolly Moodley said the suspects, who are underage, appeared at the area court facing charges of armed robbery and murder and were remanded in custody to a date yet to be announced.

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