'The dog is dead': Court readies for alleged extortionists' mega murder trial

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Yanga Nyalara.
Yanga Nyalara.
  • The case of alleged extortion godfather Yanga Nyalara and three others will move to the High Court next year as the State prepares to try them for 18 murders and six attempted murders. 
  • Their arrests came after a terrifying spate of shootings in Khayelitsha. 
  • Nyalara was arrested in August. 

Extortion "kingpin" Yanga Nyalara and three of his co-accused proceed to the Western Cape High Court next year for 18 murder charges and six attempted murder charges related to brazen shootings that shocked Khayelitsha. 

This week, Nyalara, Wanda Tofile, Manelisi Nguma and Lundi Zweni were handed lengthy indictments that detail a timeline of terror. 

The is centred on rival extortionists battling it out for protection tax extracted from immigrants running fledgling businesses in Khayelitsha.

Extortion and racketeering have been a hot topic on Cape Town's policing agenda, which initially focused on deadly fights over nightclub protection and "security fees" demanded from owners of restaurants in the City Bowl. 

However, 15 May 2021, left Khayelitsha residents reeling after a bloody tit-for-tat rampage through its streets and narrow corridors. The extortion playing out in the vast suburb was brought into plain sight.

Police and emergency services were stretched thin as they raced from body to body, sirens wailing to try to keep up with the dying and to capture the shooters. 

READ | Cape Town cop killer sentenced to life imprisonment

A reward of R100 000 for Nyalara's arrest was gathering dust as detectives' questions were met with a shrug of the shoulders. He was also wanted for a cash-in-transit heist in Libode.

So, Nyalara's arrest in August was seen as a breakthrough for the police. 

The finale for the alleged gangsters, who also face charges under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, began on 15 May 2021, when one of their own was shot dead by a man who worked for a rival extortionist known as Phiri. 

According to the indictment, he had just collected money from a shop in Site B, Khayelitsha, when he was shot. 

Afterwards, an infuriated Nyalara (also known as Bara), Tofile and Ngumla are alleged to have gathered up to 15 armed men and went on a rampage through the streets, aiming at anyone who happened to be near any of the businesses paying protection money to their rivals. 

They are alleged to have shot a man in the face just for looking at them and another who was simply driving past. 

ALSO READ | Arrest made after two killed in Eldorado Park shooting

The State alleges that Nyalara then led the way to another shop, handing one of his two automatic rifles to another man, and shooting a shopkeeper. 

Then it was off to a bar, where Gavin Futho saw them coming and tried to run inside and hide, but he was shot dead. 

Subsequently, they are alleged to have killed Thabiso Simelani and Mandlakhayise Simelani, sitting outside the bar in a Toyota Corolla.  

A woman taking cover at a house nearby was hit by one of the bullets and injured. 

They went to a supermarket and are accused of shooting Ibrahim Ahmed in the chest, killing him. 

They crossed the railway line to RR Section and allegedly shot Asemahle Mayekiso in the chest. He died as well.   

ALSO READ | Three dead, three wounded in Cape Town gang shootings

Thereafter, they moved onto a tuck shop and allegedly killed Simphiwe Mzola and Siyabonga Bethani, who delivered the daily bread. 

Shopkeeper Hassan Mohamed was taking a smoke break outside the shop when he was shot in the head and died. 

Thembile Lamani  happened to be walking in the same street when he was shot in the head and died. 

The group crossed and returned to the shop where it all started, allegedly killing Mzingisi Mbililini on the way. Once at the shop, according to police, they killed shopkeepers Ahmed Omar and Osman Wydow. 

A third shopkeeper was shot at, but not physically injured. 

They finally caught up with Phiri on 8 March 2022 near the tavern where Futho had been killed. Nyalara walked up to him and is alleged to have pulled out a gun and shot him in the back and the leg. He survived. 

ALSO READ | Police arrest four suspects in connection with murder of 7 family members

Two months later, on 8 May 2022, Ngumla and Tofile called a man not named in the indictment and ordered him to fetch them and two other men. 

They drove to a bar to fetch Zweni, who they heard was drunk and deemed at risk of being shot dead. 

Once they had fetched Zweni, a black Toyota Run X pulled up, and one of the men in the car switched cars to the Run X. 

The driver had to follow the Run X, which turned left and was told to take the next left and wait. 

The driver heard shots fired and was ordered to turn the car around and stop at a certain point in the road. Nyalara and the other men got out and ran down a passage, and the driver heard more shooting.  

By now, the driver wanted to leave, and when he looked towards the corner of Idada and Maphongwana, he saw flashes coming from the guns. 

Afterwards, he was summoned to a rendezvous point and dropped the men off in Luzuko. 

While they were driving away from Site C on Idada Street, he saw a body of one of the gang's rivals lying on Mphongwana Street, and heard Ngumla say: "The dog is dead". 

Sivuyile Lubobo, allegedly a prominent figure in organised crime, a rival, and his associates Mthokozisi Mhlakaza, Asanda Nofemela and Fundiile Mxhonywa were all killed, as were Khayalethu Nelani and Athenkosi Bonkolo, who had gone to see what was happening.

The State is also charging the four with violations of gun laws. Among the weapons used, there was a 9mm and police-issue Z88. Their first pre-trial appearance in the High Court is set for 23 March 2023. 

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