Two North West suspects in court over five initiation school deaths

Two murder suspects were remanded in custody after appearing before the Lehurutshe magistrate’s court in North West on Monday. They were charged with five separate murder cases. The victims were initiates at a North West initiation school. 

At first the duo, Obakeng Segwabe, 19, and Olebogeng Mafora, 21, were arrested for the murder of two people at a North West initiation school last year. This was after human skeletal remains were found in a plastic bag in the bushes near Mosweu village in Zeerust.

Three more murder charges added

Further investigations linked the duo to three other murders. The three decomposed bodies had been discovered between December 2023 and January 2024. The deceased were part of a group of boys who were at an initiation school. 

Police said that three additional charges of murder were added.

Initially, at the time of their arrest, the police were not able to rule out chances that the suspects may face other charges. These include contravention of the Customary Initiation Act, 2021.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said the police arrested the duo at Ntsweletsoku village on Friday.

A multidisciplinary team comprising detectives from Ngaka Modiri Molema district, Lehurutshe, Motswedi and Zeerust helped catch the duo. Visible policing, including the Zeerust K9, also joined the investigation team that made the arrests.

Bail application date set for Tuesday

The accused are expected to reappear in court on Tuesday, 23 January 2024, for bail application.

Further investigations, including the identification of the bodies through DNA, are underway. The deceased’s names will only be confirmed after that process.

Additional arrest

The team also arrested Koketso Mmutlane, 19, for defeating the ends of justice. The accused appeared in court on Monday.

According to information, he allegedly influenced Segwabe and Mafora to lie about the legality of the initiation school and its activities. This includes lying about the deaths.

Mmutlane is expected appear before the same court on February 9, after being released on warning.

The North West provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Sello Kwena lauded the arrests. He praised the officers involved in the operation for their efforts to unmask and arrest the culprits. 

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