Africa-Press – South-Africa. News24 has reliably learnt that one of the five suspects arrested in connection with the murder of 16 people at a Soweto tavern in July is a former Hawks officer.
The man and four accomplices made their first appearance at the Orlando Magistrate’s Court on Monday following their arrests over the weekend.
According to a source, the man worked for the Hawks in North West but resigned a few years ago.
The second suspect is said to be from Matatiele in the Eastern Cape and is also a popular singer of Lesotho traditional music.
The three others are said to be from Lesotho and living in South Africa illegally, said the source.
Speaking at court, National Prosecuting Authority’s Phindi Mjonondwane said the process of extraditing more suspects linked to the fatal Mdlalose Tavern shooting was under way.
“The process of extraditing the outstanding suspects has begun. The investigating officers are working directly with the Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions. We don’t want to confirm the number of suspects we want to extradite,” Mjonondwane said.
Tavern shooting: 130 AK-47 spent cartridges collected at Mdlalose Tavern in Soweto, says Cele
“Investigations are progressing very well. We suspect the suspects are part of a syndicate that wanted to control illegal mining and electricity cable theft. As the investigation progresses we will be able to have more answers.”
The five men who appeared briefly on Monday are provisionally charged with 19 counts of murder, multiple counts of attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice.
Sixteen of the murders took place at the Mdlalose tavern with three additional murder charges from cases reported at the Kliptown and Orlando police stations.
Mjonondwane could not confirm if the Kliptown murder case was that of Kgomotso Diale, who was gunned down on 18 April. Diale was killed after he and a group of Pimville residents, as well as Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini, went to an informal settlement, to confront people they alleged were behind the stealing of cables.
Residents had complained about continuous blackouts, which were allegedly caused by cable theft. Three men, armed with rifles, opened fire on the group. Diale was killed.
“We can’t divulge more on our strategy in this case,” Mjonondwane said.
“Our investigations are not concluded. We will allow the process of investigations to unfold. We will be guided by the direction the investigations take.”
Nomzamo tavern massacre: ‘I don’t know how my life was spared’ – eyewitness
She could not confirm if the accused were among the five people whose identities had initially been released as suspects.
“There is an outstanding identity parade that must be conducted. For the protection of the five suspects who appeared in court today, we will not confirm (if they are the ones released by the police earlier). I am not privy to contents of the Kilptown and Orlando murder dockets. I can’t confirm if the suspects are linked to the Kgomotso Diale case.”
Magistrate Anthony le Roux ordered the media not to release the identities of the five men who appeared before him.
The men appeared in a packed courtroom under a heavy police presence.
Outside court, residents hung from windows, peeping and shouting at the suspects.
They stormed into the building but police prevented them from entering the courtroom.
Outside the door leading to the holding cells, a large police contingent stood guard.
The case was postponed to 18 October.
Mjonondwane did not rule out the possibility of more arrests.