At least five Zimbabwean suspects implicated in the double murder of two men killed by drowning are believed to have skipped the country.
This was according to an insider close to the investigation of the murder of Zukisa Kela and his friend Sizwe Tyele, who were killed at Johannesburg’s Rhodes Park in Kensington on October 17 last year.
He said the three arrested suspects had confessed to taking part in the double murder.
Thabo Nkala, Edmor Ndlovu and Mduduzi Mathibela, also Zimbabwe nationals, were charged with two counts of murder, two of rape and one of robbery. One of them was diagnosed with HIV.
The police source said the trio had confessed to being part of a group that attacked Tyele, Kela and their partners when they were taking an early evening stroll at the park. The group of about 10 men drowned Tyele and Kela after tying their hands from behind.
They then robbed, raped and sexually assaulted their female partners. The women were placed in a place of safety where they were still receiving counselling.
The attackers were believed to be drifters who roamed around Yeoville and Hillbrow. The trio abandoned their bail application because they were in South Africa illegally.
“We have been informed that five other men who were involved have skipped the country and went back to their home country, Zimbabwe. Because South Africa doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe it makes it difficult for us to just go and arrest them in that country,” the officer said.
The police’s only hope was that the five suspects would come back to SA once the trial of the three had been completed.
“We’ve worked very well with the Yeoville community and they are keeping their eyes opened for us and, trust me, they [the suspects] will get arrested should they come back,” said the police officer.
The team of investigators accumulated more than 3000 hours of overtime in the first three months of the case. “In the many years in the service, this is one case that drained me. The horror of what those women went through still haunts me,” said the officer.
Police have not called for an identity parade out of concern that the victims might not identify the suspects because the crime was committed in the dark.
During his bail hearing in November Nkala shocked one of the survivors when he appeared in court allegedly wearing her husband’s pants. She had been watching the news on TV when she realised this. “I swear my husband was wearing those pants when we were attacked. Police recovered his body dressed in a T-shirt,” she said at the time.
The police said the pants would be used as evidence.
The suspects failed to appear at the Palm Ridge High Court after they were mistakenly taken to the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court where their bail applications were heard, state Advocate Monde Mbhaqa told the court.
It also emerged that the trio were given three new lawyers by Legal Aid SA on Thursday. They asked for the matter be postponed as they had not consulted with their clients.
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Lungelo Dlamini did not reply to questions sent yesterday.
“South Africa has no Bilateral Extradition Agreement with Zimbabwe but has designated Zimbabwe in terms of section 2(1)(b) of the Extradition Act and vice versa. We can therefore request extradition from Zimbabwe,” said Justice and Correctional Services spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga.