Cop arrested over KZN hostel murders known to be dodgy‚ residents claim
At least 90 people have been killed in the last two years in violence linked to clashes at the hostel‚ with residents long having complained – including under oath at the ongoing Moerane Commission into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal – that police were involved.
The 37-year-old officer was among five men arrested in a raid by cops on Wednesday and Thursday. The detective constable was taken into custody at the Durban Central police station where he works. His name is known to the publication but he cannot be identified until he appears in court‚ which is likely to happen on Friday.
Police spokesman Brigadier Jay Naicker said that crime intelligence operatives had spent months gathering evidence.
“Coordinated predawn raids were conducted in Harding and the hostel for wanted suspects‚” he said.
A man was arrested in Harding‚ while a second was arrested in Glebelands’ Block 51.
“A team also went to Block 42 where they arrested a 34-year-old suspect. During a search of the room of the 34-year-suspect‚ a police cap‚ two police reflectors jackets‚ a state issued laptop as well as a number of internal police correspondences were seized‚" Naicker added.
The cop was arrested at the Durban Central police station on Thursday.
Also on Thursday‚ a 28-year-old man – the fifth arrest - was taken into custody at the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court. The man was previously arrested for a murder at the Glebelands Hostel and was granted bail on Thursday – however‚ he was arrested afterwards “as a warrant was issued for his arrest on an attempted murder case”‚ said Naicker.
One resident‚ who spoke on condition of anonymity‚ applauded the arrests‚ saying it was a “step in the right direction”.
He said the officer was singled out by name several times at the Moerane Commission as being one of the key figures in the bloodshed. Neither he‚ nor the SAPS‚ have taken the stand to respond to any allegations levelled against them.
“This is great achievement and I want to applaud the police for this feat. I’m also hoping that they have a watertight and prima facie case‚” he said.
The resident said the arrest of the cop could start restoring confidence in police in the Umlazi area.
“What a way to end a bloody year! It shows that when police have a determination to end violence‚ they do it. All these years collusion between the cops and the criminals was deliberately allowed to happen. You would give confidential information to a crime intelligence agent‚ only to be confronted by criminals about it or be killed for that‚” he said.
Researcher and activist Vanessa Burger also welcomed the officer’s arrest‚ but said that many deaths could have been avoided had police listened sooner to residents’ complains about the cop’s alleged involvement. She said that police only started to take allegations seriously following a recent parliamentary oversight commission visit that “had put pressure on them”.
“I’m very happy‚ and it sounds like they may have got one of the very important roleplayers behind the violence at Glebelands. But why did it take so long? If they [police] had acted on community information and complaints‚ not that many people would have died.
“But I must congratulate the officers who’ve done the work. It’s good‚” she said.
Burger added that the challenge now was to make sure that the officer and his alleged accomplices didn’t get off lightly.
“There’s a habit with Glebelands suspects that there’s a catch-and-release type of thing. They are churned through the justice system and then they pick up where they left off‚” she said.
Advocate Solo Mdledle of the Moerane Commission welcomed the arrests.
“Naturally‚ one assumes that a person is innocent until proven guilty. However‚ the arrests are encouraging to the work of the commission and bolster confidence to the public‚” said Mdledle.
“Also one can only hope that the police have thoroughly done their work and that this will culminate to successful prosecution and justice will take its course.”
Kwanele Ncalane‚ spokesman for community safety MEC Mxolisi Kaunda‚ also welcomed the arrests.
“In fact this vindicates a long held view by the MEC that there are police officers either involved or protecting suspects at Glebelands. We are happy that our interventions are working‚ for example the deployment of a multi-discipline team and the recent opening of a new satellite police station in Glebelands. This augurs well for our efforts.
“There now exists an element of trust‚ and this breakthrough is as a result of information-sharing between the police and the community. Having said this‚ we must not lose sight of more work that still needs to be done and we have identified Glebelands as one of the hotspots this festive season in which we will do raids‚” said Ncalane.