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AKA’s alleged killers were nabbed for other crimes and kept in jail while cops probed their link to his killing

AKA, real name Kiernan Forbes, was fatally shot in Durban on February 10 2023.
AKA, real name Kiernan Forbes, was fatally shot in Durban on February 10 2023.
Image: AKA album art for Mass Country/Supplied

Slain rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes was followed by his attackers from the time he landed at the airport in Durban to the Hilton Hotel, then to Wish restaurant where he had his last meal and was assassinated on February 10 2023.

This was revealed by KwaZulu-Natal police on Tuesday night when they announced six people linked to the murder of AKA and his friend, renowned chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane, have been arrested over the past 10 months.

Police top brass, including minister Bheki Cele and KwaZulu-Natal commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, said the first suspect appeared in court after his arrest in April 2023. He was arrested in connection with another crime.

They said police are hunting for a seventh suspect who is in hiding.

Mkhwanazi said the six arrested suspects played different roles in the operation. 

He said there was a coordinator who facilitated the plan, two shooters, two spotters and a person who organised the murder weapons and getaway vehicles.

WHO IS WHO

Spotter 1 : According to Mkhwanazi, this spotter was inside the restaurant moments before AKA was shot dead. He was observing AKA. He had followed him from the airport on arrival. The suspects followed him to the hotel and the restaurant.

Spotter 2: Mkhwanazi said the second spotter was responsible for watching AKA outside the restaurant.

Co-ordinator: This person was responsible for hiring the team and ensuring resources were acquired. He also made payments to those involved. 

Facilitator: Police said this suspect supplied the firearms and vehicles. He is  linked to other two murder cases, said Mkhwanazi.

Shooter 1: One of the alleged killers was linked to another murder case.

Shooter 2: The second triggerman was linked to two other murder cases.

EVIDENCE 

Mkhwanazi said police have recovered four vehicles, firearms believed to have been used to commission the murder and cartridges picked up at the scene.

TIMELINE

Police revealed it took less than a month to crack their first solid lead in the case.

According to Mkhwanazi:

  • On March 6 2023 the first vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz, linked to the crime was recovered.
  • On April 22 2023 a firearm believed to have been used for AKA's murder was recovered.
  • On June 23 2023 police positively linked the firearm used for his murder to another murder.
  • On August 2 2023 a second vehicle, a BMW, was recovered. This is believed to have been the vehicle used to follow AKA from the airport to the hotel and restaurant.
  • On October 20 2023 a Grandi10 was recovered. It was also linked to the attack.
  • On October 23 2023 a Polo was recovered. It was also linked to the murders.

Mkhwanazi said the recovered vehicles were kept at police premises and were processed. He said they established some of the vehicles were hired.

THE PLAN

Mkhwanazi said after identifying the suspects, police decided to look for cases in which they were also involved, arrest them and keep them in custody. At this point, the group was not charged for the murders of AKA and Motsoane. 

“We wanted to make sure we got almost all the suspects, especially the organiser of the hit. After identifying everyone else, we realised at least four of the suspects had other cases.

TIMELINE FOR ARRESTS

The first person to be arrested on April 22 2023 was the facilitator who allegedly organised the firearms and vehicles. He was arrested and charged in connection with another case.

One of the spotters was arrested for another murder case on October 24 2023. He was also charged for AKA and Motsoane's murders. 

A third suspect, the alleged co-ordinator, was arrested on December 14 2023. He was linked to another murder case but was not charged with the murders of AKA Motsoane. 

Two suspects, believed to be the shooters, were arrested in eSwatini on February 24 2024 for other cases.

eSwatini media broke the news about the arrest of the two alleged shooters, claiming there was an extradition case filed for the two suspects, who are South African nationals, to be returned to South Africa.

South African police however, denied the claims, saying the suspects were not linked to AKA and Motsoane's murders.

Mkhwanazi, however, revealed that police were not forthcoming with information as they were worried this would jeopardise their case. 

Police claimed the eSwatini media reports led to the seventh suspect fleeing before he could be arrested. The two alleged shooters are brothers from Durban. They were living in a house with the seventh suspect. 

“Unfortunately the news broke of the arrest of the two suspects. When that happened, the last suspects we were looking for went on the run. Out of the six suspects arrested, four are here, and two are not here yet,” said Mkhwanazi. 

Explaining how the two were arrested, Mkhwanazi said police approached the National Prosecuting Authority, prepared an affidavit and submitted it through Interpol to request authorities in eSwatini to help track the two suspects.

Mkhwanazi said one of the men arrested in eSwatini is allegedly the “main guy” and his arrest makes the case stronger. 

The six suspects are expected to appear in court on Thursday while police search for the seventh suspect. They have not ruled out the possibility of further arrests. 

Cele said police had an idea about the motive for AKA's murder and this would be revealed in court. Motsoane was reportedly not a target for the gunmen. Mkhwanazi said it appeared he had been caught in crossfire.

TimesLIVE


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