Suspect caught at priest's house

Image: 123RF/Allan Swart

Limpopo police have finally busted a murder suspect who was on the run for six months following the death of his girlfriend in August last year.

The 33-year-old man, wanted by the police in connection with the murder of Itumeleng Betha, was arrested last Monday evening by a joint team of detectives and police crime intelligence officers at the home of a priest in Seshego, Polokwane.

This followed his failure to hand himself over to the police two months after the incident after he had promised to do so.

Sunday World had also reported that the man had allegedly boasted to the deceased's family on the same week he was supposed to hand himself over to the police that he had bribed police with two buckets of KFC prompting Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to intervene.

Betha's body was found burnt beyond recognition at her home in Senwabarwana, 90km north of Polokwane, by two of her neighbours after they had spotted a man leaving her burning home in a rush.

Limpopo police spokesman Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the man's arrest and said he was one of the most notorious and wanted suspects.

"In a concerted effort to eradicate and clean the streets of any violent crimes, especially perpetuated on women and children in the province, a well-established team compromising the provincial intelligence-led joint task team and Seshego Cluster detectives finally managed to put behind [bars] one of the most wanted suspects," Mojapelo said.

"[The man] was arrested on Monday (February 22) around 22:30 at Senwabarwana, Ga-Maponto, in the Seshego precinct at one of the local pastor's house.

"The suspect was being sought by the police for the murder of his girlfriend Itumeleng Betha aged 24 since the gruesome act which occurred ... at Bergzicht village around the Mashashane area.

"The suspect allegedly entered his girlfriend's home, strangled her, put a sofa on top of her before burning her lifeless body.

"The neighbours saw smoke coming out of the house and went to assist but were shocked to find the deceased already dead and burning.

"They immediately alerted the police who reacted swiftly but the suspect had already fled the scene and had been on the run until his arrest."

Mojapelo also confirmed that the suspect appeared in the Seshego District Court on Wednesday and that his case was postponed for a formal bail application.

The deceased's sister Maggie Betha said her family was happy with news of the arrest.

"We are happy that the police have finally done their job by arresting him because our lives were also in danger because of his continued threats towards us.

"At least he will answer for his crime now," said Maggie.

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