Yanga Nyalara and three of his co-accused will appear in the Western Cape High Court next year on 18 murder charges and six attempted murder charges stemming from shocking shootings in Khayelitsha.
Nyalara, Wanda Tofile, Manelisi Nguma, and Lundi Zweni were handed lengthy indictments detailing a terror timeline this week.
The story revolves around rival extortionists competing for a protection tax extracted from immigrants running small businesses in Khayelitsha.
Extortion and racketeering have been a hot topic on Cape Town’s policing agenda, which began with deadly fights over nightclub security and “security fees” demanded from restaurant owners in the City Bowl.
However, on 15 May 2021, a bloody tit-for-tat rampage through Khayelitsha’s streets and narrow corridors left residents reeling. The extortion that was taking place in the vast suburb was brought into the open.
Police and emergency personnel were stretched thin as they raced from body to body, sirens wailing, in an attempt to keep up with the dying and apprehend the shooters.
As detectives’ questions were met with a shrug of the shoulders, a R100,000 reward for Nyalara’s arrest was gathering dust. He was also wanted in connection with a cash-in-transit heist in Libode.
As a result, Nyalara’s arrest in August was viewed as a victory for the police.
On 15 May 2021, one of the alleged gangsters was shot dead by a man working for a rival extortionist known as Phiri, who also faces charges under the Prevention of Organized Crime Act.
According to the indictment, he had just returned from a shop in Khayelitsha’s Site B when he was shot.
Following that, an enraged Nyalara (also known as Bara), Tofile, and Ngumla allegedly gathered up to 15 armed men and went on a rampage through the streets, aiming at anyone who happened to be near any of the businesses paying protection money to their competitors.
They are accused of shooting a man in the face simply for looking at them, as well as another who was simply driving by.
They then allegedly killed Simphiwe Mzola and Siyabonga Bethani, who delivered the daily bread, at a tuck shop.
Hassan Mohamed, a shopkeeper, was taking a smoke break outside the shop when he was shot in the head and killed.
Thembile Lamani was walking down the same street when he was shot in the head and killed.
The group allegedly killed Mzingisi Mbililini on their way back to the shop where it all began. They killed shopkeepers Ahmed Omar and Osman Wydow once they arrived, according to police.
A third shopkeeper was shot at but was unharmed.
They finally apprehended Phiri on March 8, 2022, near the tavern where Futho was killed. Nyalara allegedly approached him, pulled out a gun, and shot him in the back and leg. He made it.
Two months later, on May 8, 2022, Ngumla and Tofile summoned an unnamed man and ordered him to bring them and two other men.
They drove to a bar to find Zweni, who they had heard was drunk and at risk of being shot.
Once they had Zweni, a black Toyota Run X pulled up, and one of the men in the car switched cars.
The driver was instructed to take the next left and wait after following the Run X, which turned left.
When the driver heard shots fired, he was told to turn around and come to a stop at a certain point on the road. Nyalara and the other men exited the vehicle and ran down a passage, and the driver heard more gunfire.
The driver was ready to leave by this point, and when he looked towards the intersection of Idada and Maphongwana, he saw flashes coming from the guns.
Following that, he was called to a rendezvous point and dropped the men off in Luzuko.
He saw a body of one of the gang’s rivals lying on Mphongwana Street while they were driving away from Site C on Idada Street, and overheard Ngumla say, “The dog is dead.”
Sivuyile Lubobo, a rival, and his associates Mthokozisi Mhlakaza, Asanda Nofemela, and Fundiile Mxhonywa were all killed, as were Khayalethu Nelani and Athenkosi Bonkolo, who had gone to see what was going on.
The four are also charged with violating gun laws, according to the State. A 9mm and a police-issue Z88 were among the weapons used. Their first pre-trial hearing in the High Court is scheduled for March 23, 2023.