By Mbono Mdluli | 2019-07-12
The Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) yesterday arrested the notorious and menacing Mahwalala rape suspect.
The suspect, Nkosingiphile Mbuso Setilo, who is also known as Mahlalela, was wanted in connection with a string of rape cases around the Mahwalala area and was literally smoked out of a thick forest belonging to Montigny Investments.
His arrest follows just a week after police revealed his identity, saying he was wanted in connection with the alleged offences.
About three weeks ago, police in Mpaka shot and killed three suspects, two of whom had escaped from Big Bend Prison. These were involved in a series of armed robberies and gave them no peace, in a similar way to the Mahwalala case.
Joy, happiness and relief was written all over the police and Mahwalala residents faces after Setilo was caught.
The police were shaking hands with all the residents after apprehending the alleged rapist. It was clear that all of them were happy that he was finally apprehended. However, some of the residents were not happy because the police could not give them an opportunity to take turns on him with sjamboeks. Efforts to explain why that was the case were not accepted, as the residents believed he had to be beaten. The rapist was apprehended in the morning in the middle of thick forests belonging to Montigny Investments at Mahwalala in Mbabane. Setilo was smoked out from his hiding place by the police, working cooperatively with members of the Mahwalala community between 9 and 10am. Five police officers and eight community members were present when the search was launched at about 8am.
Members of the community started searching for the alleged rapist before 8am and the search started from next to Mahwalala Cemetery.
This was after Setilo was spotted in one of the homesteads at about 5am, where he had gone to buy voetkoeks and some cigarettes.
Inhabitants of the home from which he had bought the above-mentioned items could hardly recognise him, as he had lost some weight and had become darker. The suspect had been living in the forests for some time now and could hardly afford a decent meal, something that could have contributed to his weight and complexion.
While buying the items, some community members recognised him and one resident, Mfanimpela Hlatjwako tried to apprehend him, but Setilo bolted in high speed into the forests.
That was when the police were called and the search was launched before 8am. The people who were part of the search party included the police officers, members of the Mahwalala community, Montigny Investments employees and members of various media houses in the country.
Setilo yesterday burned the forest where he was suspected to be staying. The police were of the view that he started fire within the forest in an attempt to keep himself warm.
The community members suspected that he left the fire unattended when he went to look for something to eat.
Montigny Investments rangers, who guard the forests, had suspected that the community members burnt the forest in an attempt to get rid of the suspect rapist.
However, the police thought that could not be possible. At the time when the search was launched, there were no signs of fire within the forests. It showed that it was started way before the search was launched.
While the search continued, the searchers bumped into two of his hideouts. He was living in one pit, which was just some few metres from his other hideout.
This other hideout was a cave, which was a few metres underground. The cave was discovered by Thoko Ntshalintshali, who is a Zone V community police. The search continued until the search party reached a road, leading to Tonkwane, which is one of the timber plants belonging to Montigny Investments.
While searching, police had deployed some of its members right around the forest. The aim was to ensure that Setilo remained in the forest until he was apprehended.
This worked positively for the search party as Setilo was finally apprehended hiding from the search party within the forest. He was arrested just next to Tonkwane, which is about two kilometres from the MR19 road (Mbabane-Mhlambanyatsi).
The police urged Mahwalala residents to work with them in future, as there were many crimes that had to be dealt with within the area.
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