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Heinous crimes: Police arrest four men linked to gang in Pietermaritzburg

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Pietermaritzburg residents can breathe a sigh of relief now that four men were arrested for a spate of heinous crimes in the town in recent months.

Lwazi Shelembe, 44; Nkanyiso Sibiya, 24; Thulebona Maphumulo, 26, and Mlondi Khumalo, 25 appeared before the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court, on Monday 7 June 2021 on charges of possession of firearms and ammunition.

According to Natasha Ramkissoon-Kara, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Maphumulo had in his possession, a prohibited firearm with the serial number scratched out and 18 rounds of ammunition. The other three also possessed illegal firearms with several rounds of ammunition each.

Ramkissoon-Kara said the matter had been postponed to 15 June 2021.


The suspects were arrested by police on Sunday, 6 June 2021 during a SAPS intelligence operation. The men are believed to be behind a string of violent and serious crime plaguing the area in recent months.

Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, confirmed that the suspects are linked to several murders committed in Pietermaritzburg, Imbali, Richmond and Bergville. They are allegedly responsible for incidents of robbery, rape and assault, added Mkhwanazi.

“The Pietermaritzburg district was engulfed with murder cases which have been executed by the same gang. They are linked to ongoing gang operations in the area.”

Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi

Police operations to stem gang-related activities are ongoing. Mkwanazi indicated that police were determined to arrest all individuals linked to causing instability in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas.

Mkwanazi added that the police were on a mission to restore peace in the region.


In a separate incident in Ladysmith, a 20-year-old man was charged for the murder of an elderly man he beat to death, thinking he was dabbling in witchcraft.

The incident occurred on Saturday 5 June 2021 at around 1:30 and the man appeared before the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court on Monday. According to police spokesperson, Colonel Thandeka Mbele, the man and his friends were returning home from a local tavern in the Steadville area when they noticed the 58-year-old man wandering around their yard.

Thinking he was dabbling in witchcraft or possibly theft, the group of men beat up the elderly man.

“The suspects dragged the victim out of the premises and dropped him on the roadside. He was found by a passer-by who informed the police. The victim sustained multiple head injuries,” added Mbele.

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