An 18-year-old rape survivor was killed at the weekend — apparently by members of a crime syndicate which is targeting witnesses to its activities.Lindelwa Bowes, who was a matric pupil at Siyahlomula High School in Ashdown, was found murdered, in a pool of blood, in her room on Saturday morning.Bowes had opened a rape charge against one of the kingpins in the gang, which terrorises the communities of Edendale, Imbali and Vulindlela.Her aunt, Noma Bowes, said they did not hear any gun shots or screams. “Her mother had woken up early because she was meant to go to an event. When her mom was calling her name and she was not responding, she went to check in the toilet but could not find her. She went to a sport ground to check and she could not find her. She asked neighbours and all said they had not seen her. “It is only then that we decided to go to her room and found her lying dead there. We would later realise that the kitchen door had been broken through,” she said.Noma said: “The whole family is shocked by this murder.” Although they said Bowes had not spoken about what she would like to study next year, she had seemed determined to book her place at university. “She was meant to fill her application forms today [Saturday]. She was definitely going to university,” she said.Noma said Bowes was a rugby player and participated in other sporting codes. Sources said a car had been seen following Bowes on Friday night, and another suspicious car was also seen later near her home.Ward councillor in the area, Dumisani Phungula, said he had reported the matter to Community Safety and Liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda.“We are concerned about the killing of rape survivors in the area. This incident follows that of a gang rape of a teenager two weeks ago. It is not only that. There are also other kinds of crime in the area, including robberies.“What is worrying is that the police station is a kilometre away from Ashdown yet we have this high rate of crime and we do not see any police visibility. In other cases, police have not made any arrests,” he said.Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mtungwa, said the department would work with police to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to book.The members of the gang are allegedly linked to a string of cases in the areas, including high profile murders, business robberies and car hijacking.Sources close to the investigation said more than six witnesses or complainants in these cases had been killed since April, resulting in some of the cases being dropped. In the high profile murder of a politician in November last year, two witnesses had already been killed, a source said.Insiders said this might be the end of the rape charge Bowes had opened, saying in two business robberies the suspects had been arrested for in Taylor’s Halt, witnesses had already expressed a fear of testifying against the men. A task team had arrested 10 members of the group, however, the two who turned state witness were murdered and four have been released following the murder of witnesses.Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed a murder case was being investigated by Plessislaer police station following Bowes’ murder.