Crime and court stories that dominated 2020

Court Image by Police Twitter @SAPoliceService - Crime and court stories that dominated 2020

Gauteng has witnessed a number of a high-profile crime and court stories that dominated headlines for the year, 2020. Amongst the top stories that SABC News covered were the New Year’s Day attacks in Melville and Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg, as well as a string of gender-based violence killings.

Also making headlines were the incidents of violence and assaults by members of the South African National Defence Force and police while enforcing lockdown regulations across the province.

The province also saw a surge in violent Cash-in-Transit robberies.

The year 2020 got off to a bloody start in Gauteng. On the 1st of January, while everyone was welcoming in the New Year, two separate shooting incidents occurred in Johannesburg. In Mary Fitzgerald Square, 11 people were left wounded after gunmen opened fire on a New Year’s party, targeting the VIP area of the event.

In the other incident, two people were killed and six others wounded in a drive-by shooting in Melville. Witnesses say the incident happened in the blink of an eye.

“It all happened so fast. All we saw were people in a Golf and we saw people running out and they were shooting and we saw two bodies. And then we just saw two bodies and then we saw people just dropping and falling down.”

Coronavirus lockdown

On 27 March, South Africa then entered into a national lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The army as well as scores of police officers were deployed to hotspot areas to enforce compliance.

Since the lockdown began, 11 South Africans have reportedly died as a result of actions by police or defence force members.

Alexandra resident, Collins Khosa was one of the victims. Khosa died on 10 April, allegedly after an altercation with soldiers and Metro Police.

It is understood that he was having a drink on his property when he was accused of violating lockdown regulations.

He was then severely assaulted, which resulted in him losing his life. Khosa’s family lawyer Wikus Steyl says Khosa’s death was due to a lack of leadership by both the government and the South African National Defence Force.

“The leadership has been lacking since the beginning of the lockdown. There have been contradictory statements from the President down to the generals in the SANDF, with some saying ‘skop and donner’ and others saying that is not the case. So there is a vacuum in leadership but the leadership is definitely lacking and the soldiers are definitely failing the country.” Judgement in the case: 

GBV

Gauteng also witnessed a spate of gender-based violence this year. One of the incidents that grabbed headlines is the killing of 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule. Pule, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death in June, was found hanging from a tree with multiple stab wounds to her body at Durban Deep in Roodepoort.

Her best friend Zinhle Zwane described her passing as a tremendous loss.

“I mean it was so surreal. After I heard about her passing I just kept on looking at her messages and listening to her voice notes, looking at our pictures and I think it still hasn’t sunk in yet. It is just so devastating.”

Pule’s funeral service : 

High profile cases

Several high profile court cases were also heard in the province. One of them which made international news was the sentencing of former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

Mdluli and his co-accused Mthembeni Mthunzi were each sentenced to five years imprisonment, by the High Court in Johannesburg.

The case relates to the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe, who allegedly had an affair with Mdluli’s customary wife, Tshidi Buthelezi.

Mdluli and Mthunzi were found guilty on charges of kidnapping, common assault, and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Mdluli has confirmed that he will be approaching the Supreme Court of Appeal to appeal his conviction and sentence.

“Well, I have said initially that I respect the law and I do respect what the judge has done but as I have indicated I have got the right to go to any other court.  So, we will petition the Supreme Court of Appeal because we are aware that there are a lot of gaps that were supposed to have been dealt with, however, we have been failed in the court, so the only way to go further is to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal.”

Murders

Throughout the year, police also arrested a number of people for child murders in the province. One such case was that of 29-year-old Pontsho Mohlanka.

She was arrested in September for the murders of a six-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl in Orange Farm, South of Johannesburg. In November, the Zulu kingdom was also dealt a major blow.

This is after the murder of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s son was found dead at his Johannesburg home in Randburg.

It is alleged that Prince Lethukuthula Zulu had been drugged and his belongings stolen. He was next in line to take over the helm of the Zulu Kingdom. Five suspects were arrested for his murder.

Robberies

In recent months, cash in transit robberies were also thrust into the spotlight. With brazen attacks taking place on an almost daily basis. The majority of the robberies took place in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the North West.

Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Security Services Whal Bartman, says the industry was hit extremely hard this year.

“If we just look at August, September and October there have been 97 incidents across the industry. In August, there were 40; September, 30; and October, 27. By far, the majority of industry incidents occurred in Gauteng 100. Followed by Mpumalanga 26, Eastern Cape 20 and and KZN 19 and the Western Cape 19. Fidelity has witnessed an increase of 30% in the number of incidents when in compared to the same time last year and the number of injuries is outrageous and we need to uncover these syndicates masterminding these heists.”

These were just some of the stories which made headlines in Gauteng for the 2020 news year.

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