South Africa

AGE OF THE ASSASSIN

Breakthrough: Seven suspects arrested after assassination of key Gauteng corruption witness Babita Deokaran

Babita Deokaran's bullet-riddled car stands in her garage at her Johannesburg South home. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Seven suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder of Gauteng health department senior financial official, Babita Deokaran.

The arrests come four days after Deokaran (53) died in a hail of bullets in front of her house in Winchester Hills, Gauteng on Monday, 23 August in an apparent hit.

Deokaran was a key witness in an SIU investigation after uncovering damning evidence linking prominent businesses and political figures to personal protective equipment corruption at the department.

An SIU file containing Deokaran’s affidavit was handed to the Hawks earlier this week.

See the article on a vigil for Deokaran on Thursday night: Activists at Joburg vigil for whistle-blower Babita Deokaran take premier David Makhura to task 

The breakthrough came on Thursday, 26 August after the investigation team visited the murder scene, gathering clues and following up leads that would assist in the apprehension those behind the callous murder.

Presently, the seven suspects face a count of murder but police have said more charges could be added.

The family and relatives at the funeral service of Babita Deokaran , who was shot dead at her home on Tuesday. Photo: Sibongiseni Ntuli

Deokaran was assassinated at about 8am after the gunmen waited for her to return home from dropping off her child at school. The killers, driving an unmarked, white BMW, pulled up alongside her and fired several shots. She was rushed to hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

The first mini breakthrough for the police came when investigators received information from residents of the suburb where the murder occurred. The unmarked car had been spotted on three occasions before the murder, parked in front of Deokaran’s home, taking photos.

The quick-thinking resident took photographs of the car. The same vehicle was used in the hit. 

Babita Deokaran’s affidavit is key to investigations into PPE corruption.
(Photo: Facebook)

Police were able to trace the car’s owner but held off on making an arrest. Instead, they waited for the suspect to lead them to other suspects.

Police pounced in the early hours of Friday.

A statement issued by the office of National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole confirmed the arrest of the seven suspects.

Police said the breakthrough came in the wake of a combined operation by members of SAPS Gauteng Serious and Violent Crimes Unit in collaboration with SAPS Johannesburg K9, Johannesburg East Crime Intelligence, Fidelity Specialised Services and Community Active Protection.

Sitole said: “The task team followed up information received on the whereabouts of the suspects’ hideouts in Johannesburg. During the arrest police confiscated two firearms and two vehicles.

“The team of experienced investigators caught a break in the case when they received information that led to the arrest of the suspects from Crime Intelligence.”

A murder case was initially opened by the Mondeor Police Station. However, because of the nature of the incident, it is now being treated as a suspected hit that is part of an organised crime syndicate. The matter has been referred to the Hawks.

Babita Deokaran was assassinated at about 8am after the gunmen waited for her to return home from dropping off her child at school. (Photo: Facebook)

Deokaran’s affidavit is key to investigations into PPE corruption and has provided investigators with a clearer picture of which corrupt individuals were involved as well as the financial records reflecting the money trail.

The arrests might shed light on why Deokaran was killed and who orchestrated the murder.

Sitole, commending the investigation team, said: “I am confident that the Hawks will work tirelessly to ensure that justice is served.”

Police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said the suspects will appear in court once they have been formally charged. DM/MC

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All Comments 20

  • A real tragedy: these hitmen and the bosses who sent them should do hard labour for the rest of their miserable lives.

    A VERY well done to “The quick-thinking resident took photographs of the car”.

    Does anyone know why the CCTV cameras were off?

    • Send him or her police protection. This government is so corrupt we are going to need more protection services than civilians.

  • If, as was reported on News24, one of the suspects is a senior politician probably covering his dirty PPE tracks, he deserves all seven life sentences.

  • Babita is a hero – such a tragedy these fools ended her beautiful life. And for what? Just a bunch of shameful thugs running amok in this gangster state of ours, aided and abetted by spineless politicians.

  • The suspects are reported to come from KZN.
    Maybe Cyril’s comment that the rioting and looting was ethnic based wasn’t too far off the mark.

  • Arrest all persons implicated in Dodgy PPE Tender deals and prosecute them. Then most, if not all innocent citizens will stop being murdered like dogs in the gutter.

  • These seven are the footsoldiers-the ones who hired them need to be exposed, charged and imprisoned for a good long time. This is important as whistle blowers, left unprotected by the state, are the ones closest to the heart of crime, and ironically, better positioned than our law enforcement agencies to observe the rampant looting in our so-called public services.

  • We might as well call this hit ‘Operation Thuma Mina’. PPE Corruption occurred under the watch of the ‘good ANC faction’ – no Zumite in sight.

  • This breakthrough in the investigation has come from a ‘whistleblower’ or simply stated a community member who noticed the vehicle which does not belong in the area and that it staked out the house for a few days…that is what it takes, for us as the community to stand up, report strange behaviour and to show these criminal elements that the community are stronger than the evil forces!