May 20 2011
Four of South Africa's most wanted suspects are heavily guarded as they leave the Pretoria Magistrate's Court
Four suspects, among South Africa’s most wanted for a spate of armed robberies, murders, cash-in-transit heists, bank robberies, hijackings, prison escapes and an attack on a police station, were arrested during police raids across Gauteng in the early hours of Thursday .
The raids came hours before the four - Sakumzi “Saki” Mvoko, Odwa “Oros” Sithole, Khaya “Cages” Bula and Yandisa Bila – and two other men could finish planning a suspected robbery to be carried out in Pretoria on Friday.
While police have remained mum on the planned attack, it is believed the six were possibly planning an attack on a city bank.
The arrests by the Hawks’ national and Johannesburg tactical operational management sections, the Special Task Force and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal crime intelligence agents, had police raiding houses in Kya Sands, Orange Farm, Midrand and Randfontein.
During the raids police recovered four R5 semi-automatic assault rifles. The guns are believed to be among six stolen during an attack on the Libode police station outside Umtata in March.
The police station attack was carried out days after Mvoko, Sithole, Bulo and Bila along with three other prisoners, Bongani Daluka, Sibusiso Jejane and Xolani Buthulezi, escaped from Wellington Prison in Umtata.
The seven are alleged to have escaped using a gun smuggled into the prison which they used to hold up several warders, one of whom was shot during their dash for freedom.
Days after the attack on the police station and escape from the police station, the bodies of Buthulezi, Jejane and Daluka were found on a road between Umtata and Butterworth.
All three had been shot execution-style with a high-calibre rifle.
Mvoko, Sithole, Bulo and Bila, along with the pair they were arrested with on Thursday, are now being investigated for a string of violent robberies in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, in which at least one bystander was killed during a shoot-out with police.
A policeman, who has knowledge of the suspects, the crimes they have been convicted of and are wanted in connection with, said they were extremely dangerous.
“If you gave them a gun they would kill you with a smile on their face. They would not think twice about killing someone.
“Although they are young they are hardened, cold-blooded criminals. Now that they are behind bars hopefully South Africans will be safer,” he said.
The policeman said weeks after their escape the four, along with several other suspects, allegedly attacked the Elliot FNB branch near Umtata, fleeing with a substantial amount of money.
“During their escape from the bank they shot dead an elderly man in a shoot-out with police.
“Two weeks ago the gang allegedly attacked the Harding Post Office in southern KwaZulu-Natal, again escaping with a substantial amount of cash,” he said.
The Pretoria News has learnt that the six are being held in single cells, away from other inmates, in a high-security detention facility in Pretoria.
They will be transported to a maximum-security detention facility in southern KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.
Police declined to divulge how the suspects would be transported or where they will be taken.
“All we can say is that they will not be able to escape while being transported by us.
“These guys are extremely high-risk prisoners and we will make sure no one can get to them,” a policeman said.
Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela said that on Sunday police, following up on a tip-off about the Harding robbery, received information that the suspects had fled to Pretoria.
“Our members, together with Crime Intelligence agents and the Special Task Force, launched an operation to arrest the suspects.”
The first to be arrested was Bula, who was caught in Orange Farm, while driving a Toyota Tazz on the R513.
“Taking police to Cosmo Sands in Midrand, police recovered an Audi A4 which was allegedly used in the Harding robbery.
“There a prisoner, Mpumelelo Mafikwane, who escaped from Tarkastad in 2009, was arrested along with Sithole.
“Both suspects led police to Mvoko at a nearby house where three R5 rifles were recovered in a bag under his bed,” he said.
Polela said police were then led to a house in Roodepoort where Bila and cash-in-transit convict, Monde Mlala, were arrested.
“While searching the house they were caught in, police recovered a fourth R5 rifle, 10 fully loaded R5 magazines and a silver Volvo.
“The Volvo and the Audi are believed to have been bought with money stolen during various robberies allegedly committed by the suspects while they were on the run,” he said.