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AKA murder 'paymaster' belongs to feared KZN taxi family

Court hears R800,000 paid after rapper was killed came from Gcaba

Lindokuhle Mkhwanazi, 30, Lindani Ndimande, 35, Siyanda Myeza, 21, Mziwethemba Gwabeni, 36, and Lindokuhle Ndimande, 29, allegedly murdered Kiernan "AKA" Forbes.
Lindokuhle Mkhwanazi, 30, Lindani Ndimande, 35, Siyanda Myeza, 21, Mziwethemba Gwabeni, 36, and Lindokuhle Ndimande, 29, allegedly murdered Kiernan "AKA" Forbes.

Sydney Mfunda Gcaba, the man the state claims paid the suspects in the murder of rapper Kiernan "AKA" Forbes, comes from a notorious family with a taxi business empire known for intimidating its rivals and allegedly buying weapons from the police. 

A 2022 report by Global Initiative called "Strategic Organised Crime: South Africa", which referred to the Gcaba family as the "taxi Dons of Durban". Also known as the Gcaba Brothers, the family are the most feared in the taxi industry in KwaZulu-Natal and beyond. The family is also said to be so untouchable that they even threatened a former transport MEC in the province. 

The family hails from Nkandla and the brothers' mother is sister to former president Jacob Zuma.

Yesterday state prosecutor, advocate Elvis Gcweka, told the Durban magistrate's court that Muziwethemba Harvey Gwabeni, who is said to be the coordinator of the hit on AKA, received more than R800,000 a day after the murder from a bank account owned by Gcaba's company, Bright Circle. Gwabeni then allegedly split the money among his co-accused. 

Forbes and his friend Tebello "Tibz" Motsoane were killed outside Wish restaurant on Florida Road, Durban, on February 10 last year.

According to a company register search done by Sowetan, Gcaba, 44, is a director of seven other companies that are involved in agriculture, logistics and taxi business. 

He started Bright Circle in 2017 and the company is based in Umhlanga, a resort town north of Durban. There are no details of what services it does, and it also does not have any online presence. 

According to the Global Initiative report, Gcaba is one of four brothers who took over their father's taxi business in 1996 after his murder. The other brothers are Mandla, Roma and Thembinkosi.

"They are arguably the most feared family in the KwaZulu-Natal taxi industry and have a reputation countrywide as the dons of the multibillion-rand industry. According to one taxi boss interviewed, ‘They control everything in taxis. They are untouchable'.

"One police officer interviewed claimed that the Gcabas even threatened KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport [at the time] Mxolisi Kaunda (now Durban mayor) and told him they can have him removed from office." 

The report further said they created links at different levels of the police and the brothers have since expanded these corrupt relationship to a point where a police officer, Chris Prinsloo, confessed in a 2019 inquiry into taxi industry violence that he had sold guns to the Gcabas and other rivals in KZN. 

The report said the Gcabas were among the first taxi bosses to hire private security to protect both the family and their lucrative taxi business interests.

"In the late 1990s, they hired the taxi violence unit, but it was not long before they realised that it would be more lucrative and effective to establish their own private security companies. The Gcabas have subsequently been accused of forcing other taxi bosses and associations to make use of Gcaba-run private security companies," said the report.

In 2015, Sydney Gcaba was among 11 men who were charged with the murder of three people following a shooting at Brook Street taxi rank. They were acquitted in 2017 because of poor evidence. During his bail application, Gcaba told the court that he was a father of eight children and engaged to three women. He also said he had 24 taxis and earned R400,000 monthly. 

Meanwhile, yesterday Gwabeni appeared in court with his co-accused Lindani Ndimande, 35, Lindokuhle Ndimande, 29, Siyanda Myeza, 21, and Lindokuhle Mkhwanazi, 30. They are facing 10 charges, including two counts of murder, five of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of unlawful firearms and possession of unlawful ammunition.

Two other accused, brothers Siyabonga Gezani Ndimande and Malusi Dave Ndimande, who were arrested in Eswatini last month, are being extradited to SA.

The state is opposing their bail applications.

W/O Kumarasan Pillay made the allegation in an affidavit read out by Gcweka that Gwabeni's bank records showed that a day after the murder, at about 2pm, he received R803,455. He said Gwabeni's cellphone records show he made a call to a number linked to Gcaba. Shortly after this call R803,455 was transferred to Gwabeni's bank account.

"When the money was transferred, a reference was used as 'consult'. This, we are of the view, was done to disguise the nature of the funds as same is viewed to be payment for the shooting,” said Pillay.

His team is investigating the source of this and other funds that may have been used for the planning and execution of the offences, he said.

When Gwabeni transferred money, he used the reference "dividends". Company records do not indicate that any of the co-accused were shareholders in any of his companies, said Pillay, therefore they were not entitled to any "dividends".

The case is continuing. – Additional reporting by TimesLIVE

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