Crime analyst lauds police over breakthrough in AKA murder

Rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes and his friend, celebrity chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane.

Rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes and his friend, celebrity chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane.

Published Feb 29, 2024


Durban — Independent crime and police analyst Dr Johan Burger highlighted the importance of acknowledging police efforts, stating, “We should give some appreciation to the police. They have persevered, they do deserve credit.”

He was referring to the arrest of seven suspects linked to the murders of iconic SA rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes and his friend, celebrity chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane. The duo were gunned down in Durban’s Florida Road on February 10 last year, outside Wish Restaurant.

On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, detailed how, when and why the SAPS rounded up the six murder suspects.

The seventh suspect was arrested on Wednesday.

Burger said he did not see anything wrong with how the police had dealt with the case, but suggested that from time to time, they should reassure the public that they are working on it.

“Police normally won’t disclose the depth of their work because criminals follow the media and it will inform them. Police might also not have enough information. Sometimes, the public withholds information. It can also endanger witnesses as criminals can pick up that certain information comes from a certain place.

“Due to the sensitive nature of some cases the information could be too sensitive to share. Only once a groundbreaking discovery is made, then the information gets shared,” Burger said.

But Mary de Haas, KZN Violence Monitor, said, “In a high-profile case like this one, it doesn’t necessarily mean policing is improving.”

Police make arrests all the time, she said, and often those cases don’t get to court. In most cases, after the arrests, police face civil cases as they arrest without enough evidence.

De Haas said, “The police’s primary mandate is to prevent crime, therefore they should have a good crime intelligence system that informs policing and assists with notifying them about the location of weapons and criminals. Unfortunately, that system is currently dysfunctional.”

Police said AKA was definitely the target of the February 10, 2023, shooting, while his friend, “Tibz” was caught in the line of fire.

Police said the initial plan was to shoot AKA when he was travelling inside a minibus. But they ran out of patience because the rapper was taking too long hugging and greeting his friend Tibz, who was shot dead in the same attack.

The hit was carried out by young men, with the oldest among the six, just 36, according to the police top brass.

Mkhwanazi said police made the first arrests in April last year. Police at the time dismissed the reports, but have since explained they did not want to compromise their investigation. The suspects included the organiser of the vehicles and firearms used in the execution.

The sixth suspect was described by both Mkhwanazi and Police Minister Bheki Cele as “umdidiyeli wezinkabi” – which loosely translates to the co-ordinator of the hitmen.

The six suspects comprise a co-ordinator (who paid and organised the mission), the organiser of the vehicles and firearms, two shooters and two spotters.

The question of whether there was another mastermind beyond the alleged organiser and co-ordinator, would be the subject of further investigation.

The alleged co-ordinator was the same suspect who followed AKA from his arrival at the King Shaka International Airport to the hotel and then to the restaurant where he would be gunned down.

“This person was also responsible for gathering the resources to get the team together as well as the rewards that came when they had done their jobs,” said Mkhwanazi.

The alleged organiser of firearms and vehicles was the first to be arrested in April last year. He was among a group of men arrested in Belhar, Cape Town. The other three men were later released after charges were dropped, but the alleged organiser was kept in police custody.

The suspects are due in court today (on Thursday).

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