A convicted rapist wanted for the rape at the weekend of a woman and his own 11-year-old niece was found shot dead in Peace Valley on Tuesday morning.
The Witness was told by several sources that the man was wanted by police for several crimes including the two rapes in Ashdown over the weekend.
Mfanafuthi “Kota” Dladla’s (39) body was found riddled with bullets near a river bank at around 8 am on Tuesday in what is believed to have been a vigilante killing.
Dladla’s death comes after the Ashdown community took to the streets three weeks ago calling on the Police Ministry to set up a high-level task team to probe crime in the area, including the murder of key witnesses in cases involving a notorious gang.
The hits are allegedly being ordered by members of the gang who are behind bars. Seven witnesses — including two state witnesses, in a string of cases in the area including high-profile murders, business robberies, rape and car hijackings — have been killed since April, resulting in some of the cases being dropped.
In recent incidents, two teenagers, one of them who was later murdered, were raped, allegedly by members of the crime gang.
Matric pupil Lindiwe Bowes was found murdered in a pool of blood on November 10. The 18-year-old was killed after she had opened a rape case against one of the kingpins in the gang.
In October, The Witness reported that a 16-year-old girl was abducted on her way home from a wedding and was drugged, gang-raped and stabbed.
Speaking to The Witness yesterday, the woman who was among the first to see Dladla’s body, said children who were playing outside had told her that there was a “wet man” lying next to a tree. “I went closer to inspect and realised that the person was dead. He was lying face up and his body was covered in blood,” she said.
The woman said she recognised his face and went to tell his brother who lives up the road.
Bhekuyise, Dladla’s older brother, told The Witness that the family was saddened by Dladla’s death but that they accepted it. “He was a troublesome person and I believe he was also wanted by the police as they believe he had raped an Ashdown woman on Saturday and our niece on Monday,” said Bhekuyise.
He said Dladla was convicted of rape in 1999 and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was released in 2015.
Ward councillor, Dumisani Phungula, said Dladla was an “ex-offender who should have never been released from prison”.
“We understand that out of anger and frustration because of the high crime levels in the community, people end up taking the law into their own hands which we don't encourage.”
Phungula encouraged community members to report cases to the police or to community leaders. He added that since their anti-crime march three weeks ago, there has been an increased visibility of police in the area and there had been a roadblock in Ashdown recently.