Van Zyl farm murders: Last suspect tracked down

Three of the arrestees.

MBOMBELA – A week after a massive intelligence-driven manhunt resulted in the arrest of various alleged farm murderers, police have tracked down another suspect.

Lowvelder previously reported that eight suspects had been arrested on September 4. According to police records, arrestees on that day totalled seven.

One of the arrestees.

“This is the last one that we have been looking for. We can confirm that there are no more suspects,” said a reliable source yesterday. The source has been involved in the investigation since August 20, when Limpopo residents Piet and Tilla van Zyl were found dead in their home on the Kalkpoort game farm. Piet had seven gunshot wounds and Tilla had been shot once.

Upon learning of the farm murder, investigators started collecting intelligence. This lead private security officers to the doorstep of six Lowvelders. Bongani Smanga Mabuza (35), Bheki Thapelo Mhlabane (30), Mpho Phanuel Mbuyane (33), Nthando Shabane (29), Sfiso Elijah Mlazi (36) and Dumisani Lucky Nkosi (33) were arrested in and around Hazyview on Monday. Another suspect – Zimbabwean Vision Mbongwe – was arrested in Mookgophong. Mbongwe had previously worked for the Van Zyls for 24 years. “He was fired after it was alleged that he had colluded with a group of alleged rhino poachers who were arrested on Kalkpoort in 2016,” said the source.

Investigators have linked the accused in the Van Zyl murder case to rhino poaching kingpin Big Joe Nyualungu. Nyalungu has been on trial since 2011. All seven were charged with murder in the Lebowakgomo Magistrate’s Court last week.

One of Mbongwe’s relatives was arrested on Saturday. “He is suspected of colluding to bring about the events of August 20,” said the source. “We believe Vision introduced him to the group.”

He cannot be named until he has appeared in court. The source confirmed that the eight would appear in the Zebediela Periodical Court on Wednesday, when the state will oppose bail.

Helene Eloff
Legal Adviser & Journalist

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