By Nqobile Tshili
Police in Bulawayo have arrested a murder suspect on their wanted persons list moments before his release from prison for another crime after discovering that he had been in jail while they searched for him thinking he was on the run.
The suspect skipped the country in 2013 after allegedly brutally killing a security guard at a flea market in the city centre with two other accomplices who are now serving life sentences.
Ignatius Mehluli Mhlanga (25) allegedly killed Vengai Murisi with Timothy Mathema and Isaac Nyakurerwa.
They brutally attacked him at his work place at a flea market by tying his hands, legs and neck using a wire coat hanger before strangling him to death using a jacket draw-string.
Mathema (30) and Nyakurerwa (35) were sentenced to life in prison for murder with actual intent and they implicated Mhlanga who had fled to South Africa.
Mhlanga was on the run for six years but came back to the country and was arrested and jailed for nine months for another robbery he committed upon his return.
However, police continued to search for him for killing the security guard while he was in fact in prison serving time for the robbery charge.
Mhlanga was arrested on Saturday at Bulawayo Prison moments before being released from jail after serving nine months for the robbery.
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube yesterday confirmed Mhlanga’s arrest.
“The suspect together with two other accomplices allegedly killed a security guard at a flea market in 2013. His co-accused were arrested and sentenced to life in prison. The accused skipped the country to South Africa where he stayed and returned recently when his mother fell ill,” he said.
Insp Ncube did not provide the exact time when Mhlanga returned to the country.
He said during the time he was in the country, Mhlanga committed a robbery crime and was sentenced to nine months in prison.
“During the time he was serving in prison, police got a tip off that he was part of the trio that allegedly killed a security guard in 2013 before he skipped the country for South Africa. He was arrested on Saturday at Bulawayo Prison and was charged with murder and armed robbery,” said Insp Ncube.
“His arrest should serve as a strong reminder to criminals that the long arm of the law will catch up with you no matter how far you run. You can run but certainly you can’t hide forever.”
In convicting Mathema and Nyakurerwa last year, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese said the two had killed Murisi in a callous manner and should be permanently removed from society.
“The deceased was brutally killed by the accused persons in furtherance of a crime of robbery. Under normal circumstances the two deserved capital punishment since the murder was committed in aggravating circumstances. However, this court notes that Mathema was affected by anti-social disorder at the time of commission of the offence,” ruled Justice Makonese.
“The accused persons must be permanently removed from society in order to make our society safer. For this heinous crime, the accused persons are accordingly sentenced to life imprisonment,” Justice Makonese. The Chronicle