Police yet to link four suspects to Ditebogo Phalane’s murder

Four men who have been arrested in connection with the murder of five-year-old Ditebogo Phalane Jr have not yet been linked to the murder or the hijacking of his father’s vehicle.

Lumka Mahanjana, a regional spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), revealed this on Wednesday.

Mahanjana said this during the first court appearance of the two additional suspects.  

The proceedings were postponed to next Thursday to allow for bail investigations to take place and for the accused to appoint lawyers.

The suspects, aged 29 and 30, appeared at the Atteridgeville magistrate’s court in camera, with the media and members of the public barred from the court proceedings.

They face two charges of possession of a firearm and one count of possession of ammunition.

Mahanjana said the 29-year-old suspect is a Mozambican, while his 30-year-old co-accused is a South African.

She explained that the matter was held in camera because the police still needed to conduct more investigations.

“The matter was held in camera. The media and the public were not allowed inside court because there are further police investigations that still need to take place, such as the identity parade,” said Mahanjana.

“The matter was postponed to the 30th of May for bail information, bail investigations, and for the accused to appoint their attorneys.”

Murder charge not added yet

Accused number one faces a schedule-five offence because of the nature of the firearm he was carrying, and accused number two is facing a schedule-six offence because he was out on bail on another charge.

This makes his count a schedule-six offence.

“The police investigations are still ongoing. At this stage, the two suspects are not linked to the murder of the five-year-old.

“When the two accused are linked to the murder, the murder charge will be added.

“At this stage, we do not want to divulge the nature of the investigations. We do not want to compromise the investigation.”

She said accused number two disclosed to the court that he has a pending case at Ga-Rankuwa magistrates’ court that will sit on June 28.

In that case, he faces charges of possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, attempted murder, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The suspects were arrested on Monday in Soshanguve and Atteridgeville, respectively. Police said two unlicensed firearms were recovered.

One of the firearms is alleged to be the murder weapon used in the murder of five-year-old Ditebogo, but that will be confirmed once the firearms have been sent for testing.

Police said one of the suspects is believed to have been out on bail for alleged hijacking, attempted murder, and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Shot during a hijacking

Last week, police arrested the first two suspects in connection with Ditebogo’s murder, who was killed during a hijacking at his Soshanguve home on May 10.

The boy was running up to his father, who had just returned home, when armed men shot him. He died later in the hospital.

Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Tommy Mthombeni said the two men were arrested in separate locations in Soshanguve, and each was found in possession of an unlicensed firearm during their arrest.

Mthombeni added that one of the first two suspects has been linked to a hijacking case that was opened in 2023 in Akasia, north of Pretoria.

The suspects appeared at the Soshanguve magistrate’s court and Pretoria North magistrate’s court, respectively, last week, on charges of possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. 

They are also not yet linked to the murder of Ditebogo, and are expected back in court on May 27 and 28, respectively. 

Mahanjana said the two separate cases would be tried separately for now until they have been moved to the regional court, where the NPA is expected to apply for the centralisation of the cases.

The five-year-old was laid to rest in Soshanguve on Friday.

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