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Suspected hitman linked to multiple extortionist-ring murders in Cape Town appears in court

Suspected hitman linked to multiple extortionist-ring murders in Cape Town appears in court
Yanga Nyalara is accused of murdering 18 people in Khayelitsha during May 2021 and June 2022. (Photo: SAPS)

Police have made a major breakthrough in a series of murders and cases of extortion in Khayelitsha and other areas after the arrest of a suspected hitman.

Yanga “Bara” Nyalara, 30, from Browns Farm in Philippi, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Monday. 

He faces 31 charges, including 18 counts of murder, six of attempted murder, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, dealing in and possession of drugs and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. 

The charges are linked to an extortion ring operating on the Cape Flats that has claimed the lives of foreign nationals and local residents.

gangland murders cape flats cele

Minister of Police Bheki Cele (left), with Western Cape Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Tembisele Patekile, addresses the media outside the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Monday after attending the first appearance of Yanga Nyalara, who is facing 31 charges including 18 counts of murder. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

On Monday, Minister of Police Bheki Cele and the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile attended the court proceedings. Cele praised the investigative work and police operations that led to the arrest. 

“We believe the arrest of ‘Bara’ will solve many other cases going forward, especially in the Khayelitsha area that has been torn by various scenes of multiple murders,” Cele said.

The sprawling suburb of Khayelitsha has been rocked by several mass shootings in the past few months. On 16 June, Major-General Vincent Beaton, the cluster commander for the area, said that in the space of a year, 86 people had died in shootings in the area.

According to the most recent crime statistics, Harare police station in Khayelitsha was among the top 10 police stations in South Africa with the most recorded murder cases.

Nyalara was arrested on Friday, 1 July when members of Operation Restore, acting on information, carried out a search at a residence in Nassau Street, Bothasig.

This came after police offered a R100,000 reward for his arrest. Nyalara was also wanted for a 2018 cash-in-transit robbery in the Eastern Cape.

Khayelitsha massacre

Twelve of the 18 murder counts relate to gangs vying for a slice of an extortion ring controlled by the Guptas and Boko Haram gangs in Khayelitsha which were allegedly behind a massacre that claimed the lives of 12 and injured seven others on 15 May.

The State contends that Nyalara is a prominent member of a criminal gang that engaged in a range of criminal activities, not limited to extortion of informal businesses in Khayelitsha, and committed violent criminal acts aimed at inspiring fear in the owners of informal businesses.

In papers, the State said these atrocities were not only carried out to induce business owners to pay money to the criminal gang, but were also aimed at violently eliminating competing criminal gangs/gang members also engaged in extortion of that nature.

Here are the names of those who died, allegedly at the hands of Nyalara, during the 15 May massacre near Site B, Khayelitsha: Gavin Futho, Mzingisi Mbilini, Hassan Mohamed, Mandlakayise Simelane, Thabiso Simelane, Asemahle Mayeiso, Siyabonga Bethani,  Thembile Lemani, Azora Siphiwe, Ahmed Abulla, Osmar Alukar, Omar Osman Weydow.

cape gangland murders ntabazalila

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila addresses the media outside the Cape Town Magistrates’ Court on Monday. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Six other people the State says were killed by the accused during the 8 May mass shooting near the corner of Idada and Mpongwana Street Site C Khayelitsha, were: Khayalethu Nelani, Athenkosi Bonkolo, Mthokozizsi Mhlakaza, Asanda Nofemela, Sivuyile Lubobo and Fundisilie Mxhonywa.

NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Nyalara abandoned his right to apply for bail and the case was postponed to 18 August. More charges are likely to be added as the investigation continues, Ntabazalila said. DM

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