CAT team pounces with murder arrest

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CAT members (from left) Warrant officer Ravi Pather, Sergeant Richard Kheswa, Sergeant Bianca Cantello with Atilla, Warrant Officer Bongani Mkhize and Sergeant Leroy Boucher back at the Pietermaritzburg Canine Unit after a successful night prowling the streets on Tuesday.
CAT members (from left) Warrant officer Ravi Pather, Sergeant Richard Kheswa, Sergeant Bianca Cantello with Atilla, Warrant Officer Bongani Mkhize and Sergeant Leroy Boucher back at the Pietermaritzburg Canine Unit after a successful night prowling the streets on Tuesday.
Ian Carbutt

A week after the crime-fighting team was reinstated, members of CAT prowled the streets on Tuesday night and arrested four men wanted for murder.

During the same operation they also recovered a large stash of ecstasy tablets and cash.

The men, aged between 30 and 40, were arrested for the murder of a Sweetwaters man who was stabbed, his body set alight and dumped into the Nxamalala River last Friday.

Members of the Combined Action Team (CAT) cracked the case in five days and the suspects are expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrates Court on Friday[today].

uMgungundlovu South Cluster police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the man, believed to be in his mid-30s, was found floating in the river with burn wounds from his head to his lower body. He was also stabbed in his back and then dumped in the water.

An all-night operation led members of CAT to a house in Madwaleni, Sweetwaters, at around 2.30 am on Thursday.

Ngobese said the specialised unit “tactically” entered the house of one of the suspects as they had been tipped off that the suspects were armed.

“Once they arrested the men the team searched the house,’ he said.

CAT found 200 ecstasy tablets and R45 000 in cash.

“The men were charged with murder and dealing in ecstasy,” Ngobese said.

uMgungundlovu South cluster commander Major General Phumelele Makoba said she was grateful and thankful to the members of CAT for “a job well done”.

“Partnerships will always yield excellent results in the fight against crime,” she said.

The specialised unit also tracked and arrested three suspects for attempted robbery and theft of a motor vehicle.

The men were found with a stolen Toyota Verso believed to be hijacked in Copesville on Tuesday night.

Three cellphones, believed to be stolen, were also found in their possession.

CAT was recently reinstated under the auspices of the Pietermaritzburg K9 unit and will service both the uMgungundlovu north and south police clusters.

The unit now falls under the control of commander of the dog unit, Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Oberholzer.

When news of the team’s earlier disbandment spread, the community called for them to be reinstated. Residents went so far as to create and sign an online petition requesting that the CAT be reinstated with immediate affect.

CAT consists of highly skilled and trained officers who gained a reputation for being successful in cracking down on serious crime in the city.

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