Three suspected rural gangsters arrested, stolen goods retrieved

2009-09-23 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S organised crime unit (OCU) has arrested three men believed to be part of a gang targeting farms and smallholdings in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

Two of the suspects appeared briefly in court yesterday, but were not asked to plead to any charges. Their case was postponed until today when the third suspect is also expected to make an appearance.

The two who appeared in court yesterday are Cyprian Mbanjwa (25) and Sphakanyiswa Nene (24), who were arrested in Hopewell location near Thornville.

Superintendent Pete Scott confirmed yesterday that members of the OCU are still looking for at least two other suspects believed to be part of the gang.

He praised the work of his members who acted on a tip-off at the weekend, which led them to the Hopewell area. Intensive investigations led to the arrest of the three suspects and the recovery of suspected stolen property estimated to be worth in excess of R100 000.

Scott said the suspects have so far been positively linked to two recent attacks on farms in the Thornville and Creighton district, but said the names of the complainants are being withheld for security reasons.

In one of the incidents, the farmer was watching television when he was accosted in his lounge by gunmen who tied his hands with wire and locked him in his bathroom. The gang demanded money and valuables and ransacked the house.

The victim told police that when he thought the intruders had left he started to shout for help and one of them returned and told him they were “not finished yet”.

In another incident at Creighton, a couple woke up when intruders switched on their bedroom light at about 1 am.

The robbers told them they were not there to kill them, even though they were armed with firearms.

They set about ransacking the house while the couple lay in bed, not daring to move.

The robbers loaded their car — a Toyota — with stolen goods and drove away.

The vehicle was later recovered in Ixopo.

Scott said they have reason to believe that the gang is responsible for other crimes and robberies, particularly targeting the rural community, and are confident that they will be linked to other similar offences.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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