The Herald Harare Thupeyo Muleya
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

A Zimbabwean, who together with his wife masterminded the murder, kidnapping, rape, assault and extortion of his fellow countrymen in South Africa, has been sentenced to 350 years imprisonment in the neighbouring country. A judge at the South Gauteng High Court convicted Charles Cecil Brewer (36), alias Boss of Nketa 7 in Bulawayo, on his own plea of guilty to 62 charges that included murder, rape, robbery, extortion and assault.

The gang is suspected to be part of a larger syndicate and is accused of killing Olga Gwena (25) of Chitungwiza and Esther Mwenda of Harare, among others. Brewer is the alleged leader of the gang, which includes his South African wife Madida Petition Sicelo (30) alias Sister, Jaheni « Satan » Luphahla (28) of Old Lobengula in Bulawayo and Phathumuzi « KK » Sibanda (27) of Emakhandeni in Bulawayo.

Luphahla allegedly earned the Satan moniker in the South African underworld for reputedly being « wickeder than Lucifer himself ». Brewer will, however, serve only 20 years in prison after the court set aside 330 years in return for him to identify and testify against more members of the syndicate that are still at large.

The syndicate allegedly committed the crimes between May 30 and July 11 last year. « The State has opted to make Brewer key State witness against members of the syndicate, which has become a perennial headache for South African authorities.

« His three other accomplices are still on trial after they pleaded not guilty to all the charges, » said an official. The case has been dragging on as the accused have been struggling to get a lawyer after dumping the State’s free legal practitioners.

The gang is believed to be part of a syndicate targeting mostly women travelling between Musina and Johannesburg in Gauteng Province. They were picked up during a police sting operation in Musina on July 25.

Victims have positively identified the four.

They identified Brewer and Madida as the drivers of a white Opel registration number SNB949GP and a red Hyundai Matrix registration number ND462078. The syndicate operates from Total and Engen filling stations and a house in Musina, targeting Zimbabwean hitch-hikers travelling to Gauteng Province.

The state has subpoenaed more than 100 witnesses to testify against the quartet. It is said they used South African- registered private vehicles and touts to lure victims into their cars. After kidnapping and detaining travellers at various houses in Johannesburg, the gang would turn violent and strip their hostages of valuables.

They would then call the victims’ relatives and demand money for their release. The amounts which ranged from R3 000 would be paid through money agencies that include Shoprite, PEP, Spar or Cambridge stores.

Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, commended SA authorities for making sure that justice was upheld. « We have faith in the justice system and hope that in the remaining three cases, justice will surely prevail.

« It is our conviction that members of the syndicate that are still on the run will soon be arrested and face justice, » he said. Mr Mukonoweshuro urged Zimbabwean travellers to be well documented at all times and to use regulated public transport instead of hitch-hiking.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 actualité africaine