Durban townships terror gang nabbed

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Detectives working around the clock to find the gang that went on a killing and raping spree in two Durban townships last month believe they have their suspects.

The gang terrosised the community, raping three women and shooting dead iThemba Gospel Choir star Philani "Amen" Mkhanyawo, 35.

The breakthrough by members of the robbery task team came in the early hours of Saturday. The suspects - aged between 23 and 35 - were arrested in a house in Harding. They are facing murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and robbery charges.

Police spokesperson Phindile Hadebe said the men were wanted for a series of crimes.

"It is alleged that the five suspects all armed, kidnapped six women from the informal settlement at Umlazi's J Section. Two of the women were raped. They then took the six to Walbedacht near Chatsworth to a house where they shot three people.

"The gang then returned to Umlazi to Mkhanyawo's house with the six. They were allegedly forced to pretend to be the police. When Mkhanyawo's niece opened the door they forced her to knock at her uncle's outbuilding. When Mkhanyawo refused to open the four forced their way in and shot him three times. He died at the scene. His young relative was raped, before the men stole his clothes, six cellphones and food."

Hadebe said the suspects will appear in the Umlazi magistrate's court this morning. The detectives are certain that they have a tight case.

"Several firearms were recovered as well as stolen cellphones belonging to the victims. Most important is that the firearm used to shoot Mkhanyawo has been found. All weapons will be sent for ballistic testing," she said.

"Investigations are continuing. We expect more arrests. We are also probing whether or not the gang and the suspects are linked to other crimes."

Yesterday Mkhanyawo's family said they were still awaiting confirmation from the police about the arrests. Spokesperson Lindani Komo said they were still in shock.

"The family has been living in fear since the death. The whole incident was horrible."

Premier Sbu Ndebele yesterday praised the police for their hard work.