Case takes a turn

2017-02-08 06:01
Slain tavern owner Alfred He­lepi. Photo: Teboho Setena

Slain tavern owner Alfred He­lepi. Photo: Teboho Setena

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The murder case of tavern owner Alfred Helepi (70) has taken another turn after Ntsane Togowe (37), one of the five suspected armed robbers linked to the murder, handed himself over to the police in Bloemfontein.

Helepi, also known as Chencha, was a former Moroka Swallows player.

Togowe has come forth almost two months after he was freed in November last year, along with co-accused Dira Moreenyane (32), Nthabiseng Lempe (32) and Alice Majake (27), all Lesotho nationals, as well as Banzini Gxamza (33) from Port Elizabeth.

Togowe, who resides in Bloemfontein, appeared alone in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 31 January, and was granted bail of R1 000 with conditions.

Prior to handing himself over to the police, Togowe, together with Gxamza, reportedly had an exclusive interview with a local newspaper, The Weekly, denying ever evading arrest. They also denied their involvement in the murder of Helepi.

The deceased was reportedly shot dead by one of the five armed assailants in the bathroom of his home in Phahameng during an armed robbery in March last year.

The robbers reportedly took an undisclosed amount of money and fled the scene using the deceased’s vehicle, which was later found abandoned in Phelindaba in Bloemfontein.

Arrested last year in April in connection with the murder, the five suspects were kept in custody until they were released on 11 November following an order by the Bloemfontein High Court. The Regional Court subsequently struck the matter off the roll.

The accused are charged with housebreaking with the intent to commit a crime, robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder.

The decision to release the five suspects apparently followed numerous postponements of the matter, as well as the Hawks delaying the finalisation of the investigation.

However, the Hawks obtained a warrant to re-arrest the five suspects after it emerged they were released by mistake by the state’s presiding officers.

Gxamza was also freed despite a warrant issued in 2012 for his arrest in connection with theft and housebreaking in Port Elizabeth.

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