Arrest coup in robbery gang probe

Suspect held for home invasions, murders after two-year search

An alleged member of a gang believed to be involved in a spate of robberies and murders has been arrested in what police are calling a major breakthrough. The 26-year-old suspect’s arrest has also been hailed as one that could cast further light on a number of cases in which taxis were used to transport criminals to and from crime scenes.

Police top brass say the arrest is a significant development in the spate of robberies, mainly targeting student communes.

The arrest comes two years after detectives first started searching for the 26-year-old man, whom police are not naming until he appears in court.

The man was arrested after a house robbery in Summerstrand.

He is also wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of Hazel Huggins, 85, in March 2014.

A warrant of arrest in connection with a Walmer house robbery had also been issued for the man.

Huggins was suffocated during a suspected robbery in Kruger Gardens in Admiralty Way, Summerstrand.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said yesterday the man had been arrested after a taxi driver was taken in for questioning in connection with a house robbery in Jenvey Road, Summerstrand, on Monday morning.

“The driver was pulled over in Central but two suspects had already been dropped off,” she said. “The driver was taken in for questioning and after following up information, the suspect was arrested at his house in Walmer location on Monday. “The second suspect remains at large and is believed to be on the run.”

Naidu said the driver had been released, but would remain a co-accused while the investigation continued. Efforts are now under way to identify and arrest the buyer of the stolen items. According to detectives, the suspect is part of a notorious gang allegedly headed by ringleader Melikhaya Duba, 32, known as “Blade”.

Duba was considered one of the Bay’smost wanted suspects before his arrest last year. He was also under investigation to determine if he was linked to the murder of NMMU science and applied mathematics student Asadullah Ajimudin, 19, who was beaten to death with a bat inside his flatlet in Summerstrand in August last year.

Police are awaiting forensic results and Duba has not yet been charged in connection with the murder. Police said that while Duba remained in custody the remainder of the gang had continued their crime spree, terrorising residents and NMMU students for several months.

Humewood police station commander Brigadier Ronald Koll said the net was closing on the gang, who were believed to be part of several house robberies and botched robberies that led to the victims being murdered.

“This is a breakthrough [as] now we have at least one more in custody who can be interrogated and possibly linked to several other crimes via forensic evidence,” he said.

“We suspect this man and his accomplice are also linked to several robberies and burglaries by CCTV footage and witness statements.” During Monday’s break-in, the man made rude gestures towards a CCTV camera while wearing a balaclava. “The same balaclava was found in the cab. It has been sent for forensic testing in the interim,” Koll said.

He said preliminary evidence suggested the man had been involved in the Huggins case.

“This man was wanted for questioning for the murder. However, now that he is in custody, DNA and forensic samples are needed to assist with linking him to the scene. “One cannot rule out the possibility that this man, and his accomplice, are also linked to the other murders.”

Koll was referring to Ajimudin’s murder as well as that of retired Grahamstown farmer John Berrington, 85, at his Duncan Ferguson Park retirement village home in Seventh Avenue, Summerstrand, in October last year. The man is due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court today.

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