We cannot allow our lives to be cut short in this way – Mathabatha

The murder trial of five suspects linked to the death of Dr Malekutu Johannes Mehlape, the circuit manager of the education department in Limpopo, has been postponed to February 1.

When the accused appeared in Mankweng magistrate’s court on Thursday, the case was adjourned for further investigation and bail application.

The accused — Mahlodi Mathole, Sello Molongoane, Hlolofelo Mogotlane, Tshepo Ranoto, and Mologadi Mehlape — were remanded in police custody.

A sister-in-law implicated in the murder

Mathole is a school principal and the deceased’s sister-in-law, according to the police.

The suspects are accused of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and possession of an unlicensed firearm, according to police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba.

A team of investigators, including the provincial tracking team, provincial murder and robbery unit members, as well as private security companies, arrested the first three suspects separately in Mankweng and Zebediela over the past few weeks, according to Ledwaba.

Ledwaba said two more suspects were arrested on Wednesday following an investigation.

“The principal [Mathole] was arrested at Moremadi Park after a warrant of arrest was issued,” said Ledwaba.

“A 49-year-old man was apprehended after following up on leads. He was discovered in his hiding place at Mahwelereng Zone 1 and had a 9mm handgun and ammunition.”

Mehlape’s murder is suspected to have been carried out using the recovered firearm, according to a preliminary investigation, and a double-cab Ford Ranger that was purportedly used in the crime was seized.

Premier condemns Mehlape’s killing

Mehlape, the circuit manager for the department of education at the Lebopo office in the Capricon district, was shot and killed at his Mankweng Zone 1 home in December.

Stanley Mathabatha, the premier of Limpopo, has subsequently denounced violence in all its manifestations. He raised concerns and condemned the murder of Mehlape.

Mathabatha stated: “We cannot allow our lives to be cut short in this way any longer. Enough is enough.

“Let us work together to combat and eradicate these barbaric acts from our communities.”

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