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Western Vhukovhela case postponed again

 

The five members linked to the Western Vhukovhela Protection Unit will spend Christmas in jail. They appeared in the Tshilwavhusiku Magistrate’s Court on 14 December, but bail was denied. The case was postponed once again to 4 January, when a bail application is expected to be entertained.

The suspects, Dakalo Makhavhu, Sam Makananise, Duncan Madzaga, Mbilaelo Bakali and Rendani Makhavhu, aged between 28 and 38, were arrested during a multidisciplinary, intelligence-driven operation by the Vhembe Trio Task team, the Makhado CI and the Beitbridge Task Team between 26 and 28 October. They were charged with kidnapping, assault and attempted murder.

Members of the Western Vhukovhela unit are accused of first starting to conduct their own “law-enforcement” raids. They confronted several “crime suspects” in the area and allegedly beat up young boys and men accused of committing crimes with sticks and sjamboks. The members, however, allegedly became so brazen that they started to film some of these assaults and posted them on social-media platforms.

Some of the goods that were allegedly stolen were returned to residents, but many residents started to become suspicious when the organisation launched a campaign to collect R10 per month from each household to help pay for their protection against criminals. Some of the residents opted to pay this “protection” money, while others refused. The ones who refused to pay claim that they were told to pay R300 upfront before they could get any assistance from the organisation. People soon started to accuse the Western Vhukovhela members of being behind the crime in their area.

The activities of the “protection unit” caused mixed reactions within the community, with many blaming the police for not wanting to act against them. The chairperson of the Zoutpansberg Community Development Forum, Mr Patrick Sikhutshi, was allegedly also attacked by the organisation early in October. The police had to be called in after the attackers allegedly tried to burn down Sikhutshi’s house. Sikhutshi was very critical of the rogue activities of the Western Vhukovhela unit.

 

 

Date:21 December 2022

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