POLICE have arrested one of Mpumalanga's most wanted criminals, Mbuthi Mabaso.

Mabaso was arrested in Mzinti near the Mozambique border yesterday morning.

Police said Mabaso, 25, was wanted for several crimes, including murder, attempted murder, car hijacking, rape, house- breaking and pointing a firearm at a person.

Tonga police spokesperson Mzwandile Nyambi said the police had received a tip-off about Mabaso's movements.

"We managed to arrest him very easily because everyone hates him for his alleged crimes," Nyambi said.

"People everywhere were very willing to assist us with information on his whereabouts.

"When the suspect saw us he tried to run away but we cornered him. We have been looking for this suspect since January."

Nyambi urged anyone who had been victimised by Mabaso's "red terror" to come forward to testify in court.

Police said Mabaso was in possession of a pistol. He tried to use it to avoid arrest but failed.

A resident in the area said he was pleased to know Mabaso had finally been arrested.

"I was even afraid to go out at night with my girlfriend, knowing that if he found us he would rape my girlfriend and kill me.

"I really appreciate what the police have done, so I would like to urge everyone who had been abused by him to testify against him."

Mabaso is expected to appear in the Tonga magistrate's court soon, Nyambi said.