Above: The bullet-riddled car the couple were in during the shooting at the restaurant. Inset: The late “General” Masipala Hlungwani, who was shot execution style. Photos supplied.

Leader of Black Mafia Family shot execution style


The hit-style killing of alleged crime kingpin Thivhileli Vincent Hlungwani has elicited shockwaves and fear throughout Limpopo.

Popularly known as “General” or “Masipala” to his peers, the 32-year-old from Muledane was shot execution style at a restaurant opposite Thavhani Mall along the R524 road in the early hours of Sunday (23rd) around 02:40.

He was in the company of a 27-year-old female, who was identified as Ms Sithonga Xhamla Sabelwe. She is believed to be a prosecutor working in the Polokwane area, but not much more is known about the woman.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are still sketchy, but information filtering in is that, shortly before the shooting, the two were seen having a good time at one of the top pubs at Shayandima.

They are believed to have left the pub in Sabelwe’s car, and possibly they were followed and stopped by the unknown assailants. Before they could alight from their vehicle, they were met by a hail of bullets from a high-calibre rifle shot through the driver’s door. More than 20 bullets were pumped into the car, killing the driver and his passenger at the scene.

Masipala assumed the leadership position of the Black Mafia Family (BMF) after the death of the Jerusalema/Tshisole leader, Arno Mudau. Mudau (40) was killed in a vehicle accident in 2022. The circumstances surrounding the accident remain a mystery and not much is known about it.

Masipala is the second Tshisole leader to die violently and gang warfare is suspected. In 2021, another Jerusalema/Tshisole leader, Naledzani Munyai (44), was also killed execution style. His bullet-riddled body was found in bushes in the Tshidzivhe area. He had been missing for almost a week before the grisly discovery.

Some members of the local community described Masipala as a feared gangster who committed robberies, murders and kidnappings, but this was vehemently denied by his family and those close to him.

In 2015, Hlungwani made the headlines when he, together with Norman Mnisi, appeared in court and were charged with, among others, the murder of a police officer, detective Warrant Officer Thomas Mabada. The charges were later withdrawn.

Earlier this week, the dead man’s father, Advocate Ntsako Hlungwani, said they were in shock and fear after the incident. “We are struggling to gather information surrounding the incident from his friends, but they too are in in the dark and in shock. Without knowing what had happened, we do not feel safe as a family,” said Adv Hlungwani.

About the rumour that his son was a crime kingpin, Hlungwani said that as soon as he had heard about the allegations, he had sat down with him, but he had denied all that. “As a parent, you do not know everything that your child does outside. What I know is that he was a very obedient and respectful child and was not a criminal. He owned rental rooms at Malamulele and was also in the car-wash business that sustained his lavish lifestyle,” he said.

Adv Hlungwani said that his son had no criminal record and had worked with the police in crime-awareness programmes at schools. “If he was a criminal, police would have no difficulty in arresting him,” he said. He added that the family members were preparing to bury him on 1 May.

Limpopo police spokesperson Col Malesela Ledwaba confirmed the incident, saying the unknown assailants had used a white bakkie. “The motive for the killing is unknown at this stage, and police investigations are ongoing,” he said.

The acting Limpopo Police Provincial Commissioner, Major General Jan Scheepers, called on community members to come forward with information that can assist the police in arresting the killers. Anyone with information can contact the investigating officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tendani Rambuda, on 0824517154, visit their nearest police station or phone the Crime Stop number, 0860010111.




Date:28 April 2023

By: Elmon Tshikhudo

Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.

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