hitmen run wild

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A Limpopo businessman fears for his life after alleged hitmen tried to kill him - twice.

Klaas Mthombeni, 47, claims the criminals were hired by unknown people to target businesspeople in Sekhukhune.

Head of the police special investigations unit in Pretoria Superintendent Fanie Molapo, whose unit was assigned to investigate the matter, confirmed that some of the suspects were alleged hitmen.

"The challenge in the Sekhukhune-Nebo area is that alleged criminals easily get bail while they do not have fixed addresses or are not in possession of South African IDs," said Molapo.

He said five suspects, four of whom are Mozambican nationals, have been arrested and will appear in court today on charges of terrorising businesspeople in the Sekhukhune area.

Mthombeni, of Monsterlus township, was attacked twice within three weeks at his home in the past six months.

Mthombeni, who owns a panel- beating business, said four men had forcibly entered his house on June 19 and demanded cellphones and guns. They tied him and his family up with ropes, leaving the couple's eight-year-old son unharmed.

The crooks then drove with them to the bank and demanded PIN codes for their bank cards. But the thugs discovered that Mthombeni's card had exceeded its daily limit and withdrew R2000 from his wife's card.

Mthombeni said he escaped as the criminals were trying to withdraw money from his card. The suspects later made off with his bakkie, but the vehicle was found abandoned a few kilometres away.

According to Mthombeni, three of the attackers were Mozambicans and one a local from the nearby Sephaku village.

The second incident happened on July 10. He said he was confronted by a gun-wielding man inside his house late at night.

"It was dark inside the house but I managed to grab the man's gun and a struggle ensued. The man was shooting. I overpowered him and he fled," he said.

The suspect was later identified as one of the alleged hitmen in the area.

"The problem is that despite the man's confession that he was hired to kill me, the police were slow in arresting his accomplices," he said.

Mthombeni said the arrested suspect had provided the police with addresses of where his accomplices could be found.