Thursday, 25 October 2007

Police nail killer gang

Nabbed: Police have arrested a ten-member gang believed to be behind the murder of a 70-year-old Johannesburg businessman. Photo: Matthews Baloyi, The Star

Police nail killer gang

Gill Gifford

October 25 2007 at 07:21AM

Ten armed men and a sangoma have been arrested after a 70-year-old man was shot dead in front of his family and staff, and his 65-year-old wife was attacked and threatened with death.

The gang members were arrested in a sangoma's house in Ennerdale, south of Joburg, on Wednesday while taking part in a ritual just hours after the attack.

The sangoma, also arrested, was allegedly sitting with the gang's guns and loot.

This followed a chase that started on Wednesday at a smallholding in Jagfontein near Randfontein, on the West Rand, where Mike du Plessis (70) was shot dead in front on his staff and son-in-law.

Du Plessis and his wife Sannie (65) lived on the plot, from which they sold bricks and sand.

The suspects had been there the day before to ask for a quote, and early on Wednesday they came back and held up Du Plessis, son-in-law Jan Jonker and five of their office staff. They demanded money.

Meanwhile, Sannie du Plessis, who was in the main house, decided to see what was happening after her daughter called to ask why the office landline or cellphones were not being answered.

"I went down and saw a man with a gun jumping the fence. I screamed and he fired a shot, which scared off the dogs," she said.

"Then suddenly there were three of them. They tied me up and started dragging me across the yard.

"I started praying and one of them said 'Why are you praying? There's no God who will help you.'

"He hit me in the face with his gun.

"Then one of them put his gun in my mouth and said 'I'm going to kill you'.

"I can't describe what was going through my mind.

"I called to my husband and I heard him, and so I called again - and that's when I heard the shot," Sannie said.

In the office, the other armed thugs had ripped out phone cables, grabbed cellphones and demanded money.

Unable to find much, they demanded more. Du Plessis told them he had no more money.

"And so they shot him in the head. I was with him when he died," said Jonker.

The robbers ransacked the office and the house, where they assaulted domestic worker Jeanette Kupane, who they caught trying to hit the alarm.

They beat her up, shoved grass in her mouth and threw her in the dog kennel before leaving in two cars of their own and two bakkies which belonged to Du Plessis.

Relatives of the murdered man, who live nearby, heard what had happened and several started driving around the area hoping to catch the gang.

One of them called Inspector Ewald Matthee, who is based in Soweto and distantly related to the Du Plessis family.

He was running late and on his way to a course. However, he coincidentally spotted one of the stolen bakkies near Ennerdale.

Gauteng police spokesperson Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said Matthee stopped the driver, who was alone, and he took police to the rest of his group.

When police arrested the gang at the sangoma's house in Ennerdale, they were involved in some kind of ceremony.

"She was in the corner of the room with the guns and money, they were busy with some kind of ritual," said one detective.

Glass jars of herbs, a jackal skin, a book titled Magic and Your Fingerprints and a pile of gloves were found.

A framed certificate stating that the sangoma was "accepted by 20 Bantu herbalists as a member of the Bantu Muti Herbs of South Africa and is recognised professionally as a herbalist" in 1994 indicated that traditional medicine was practised in the house.

Dlamini said all 10 men and the sangoma were arrested. Six firearms were seized, along with the cash believed to have been taken from Du Plessis.

The two stolen bakkies were recovered as well as cars used by the suspects.

One of the vehicles was found to have been hijacked in Honeydew, north-west of Joburg, last month. The other was stolen in Sophiatown in April.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on October 25, 2007


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