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Police make breakthrough in Soweto tavern massacre

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Police in Gauteng have arrested two suspects linked to the Soweto tavern massacre in which 16 people were shot dead.

Police spokesperson, Brig Brenda Muridili said one of the suspects was arrested in Johannesburg on Thursday while the second suspect was arrested in the Northern Cape on Friday.

“On September 22 (Thursday), national crime intelligence officers arrested one suspect who was then linked to the Nomzamo shooting incident in Johannesburg. The suspect was handed over to Gauteng’s murder and robbery investigating team for further handling. He then led the team to one of his accomplices who was arrested in Northern Cape on September 23 (Friday),” said Muridili.

She said two more suspects were arrested, one of whom is linked to the murder of a Lesotho musician in Kliptown in October 2021 and an attempted murder case in Orlando in May this year.

“The fourth suspect was apprehended on a warrant of arrest for a double murder incident that occurred in Doornkop in 2021 where two Basotho nationals were killed,” she said.

The four suspects are expected to appear in the Orlando magistrate’s court on Monday.

On September 5 Gauteng police said a warrant of arrest had been issued for Terene ea Khosi Mokata leader Sarele “Lehlanya” Sello and four other members — Tshepiso Khowa Radebe, Thabang Radikatara, Tshidiso Moleko and Keletso Rabasotho — for the murder of 16 people at Mdlalose’s Tavern in Orlando on July 10.

The killings happened when a group of armed men, who were allegedly targeting members of Lesotho’s Terene ea Khosi Chakela, stormed the tavern and shot indiscriminately at patrons, injuring seven other people.

The massacre is allegedly linked to a feud between the rival gangs. The groups have been locked in a cycle of revenge killings across the gold reef in Gauteng, the Free State and North West for years.

At the centre of the bloody feud are scores of lucrative operational mines which have been abandoned. They provide the gangs illegally mining them with millions in gold monthly.

On September 2, TimesLIVE reported that specialised Gauteng detectives traced the alleged killers and narrowly missed arresting them at the Maseru border post on August 18.

TimesLIVE established that Sello and the other suspects allegedly first hid in Vereeniging and Klerksdorp in North West, before escaping into Lesotho, where they are free.

Through sources in the Lesotho security services, the SAPS and illegal miners, it was established that the operation to apprehend Sello and his gang members, sanctioned by senior Gauteng police officers, was carried out without the knowledge of Lesotho security forces.

Muridili last month declined to comment on the meeting and operation, saying: “We are not at liberty to discuss information that forms part of an ongoing investigation for fear of jeopardising the investigation.”

Lesotho’s security services were apparently only alerted a day after the failed operation. TimesLIVE Investigations learnt the swoop would have involved suspects being lured from their homes to the border, where they would have been snatched by police with the help of Mokata leaders in SA.

Lesotho Mounted Police (LMP) commissioner Holomo Molibeli said they were in the dark about what happened: “The LMP definitely did not receive official requests for assistance in tracking the suspects. We were unaware the police were here for them. If we were made aware, we could have helped.”

Source: TimesLIVE

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