By Thupeyo Muleya
Armed robbery suspect John Sithole, a.k.a. Kedha, who was shot in a gunfight at a Beitbridge house this week after a 14-hour hostage stand-off, was wanted by police in connection with two cases of rape, attempted murder and seven other armed robberies.
Sithole, who was shot and killed by police as he sought to escape while firing at police units surrounding the house in Beitbridge’s Dulivhadzimu suburb on Thursday, was known to be a violent criminal.
He is said to have been on the police’s most wanted list in connection with crimes committed in Beitbridge, Mberengwa and along highways to Harare and Bulawayo.
The Herald understands that Sithole was launching his operations from Musina in South Africa and would usually skip the border through the Limpopo River.
In the attempted murder case, which occurred three weeks ago, Sithole is said to have raped a woman and her child in Mberengwa before locking them up in a house and setting them ablaze.
The victims were saved by other villagers who managed to put out the fire.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, yesterday gave details of cases being cleared.
“The suspect has helped clear two cases of rape and attempted murder in Mberengwa and seven armed robberies that occurred around Beitbridge,” he said.
“However, we cannot give further details concerning the cases since we are pursuing his other accomplices.”
Sithole was shot and killed in a heavy gunfire exchange.
During the stand-off, he managed to shoot and wound one detective in the arm.
Before his demise, he had initially evaded arrest in the Limpopo River on Wednesday afternoon and hid at his rented house in Dulivhadzimu where he was found by detectives.
According to police, Sithole was ordered to surrender, but he turned violent and held 10 people at the house hostage and opened fire at the police who tried everything to make him surrender.
He did not relent and kept firing until reinforcements were called in from the police special tactics unit which eventually killed him in the afternoon after he had released the hostages.
Police recovered a Black Star S.A Calsap Pistol loaded with six rounds, and a plastic containing loose dagga from his trousers.
“A further search was conducted around the house, leading to the recovery of 25 by 9mm spent cartridges,” said a security source. “Another 105 cartridges shot from the police’s AK47 rifles and 25 from FN rifles were also picked from the crime scene.”
According to a source, the tactical team established that Sithole had around 50 live rounds before the start of the gun battle, but only six were recovered at the end, meaning the rest had been fired at the police. The Herald