Slain Mamelodi gang leader had evaded the police for months

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Slain Mamelodi gang leader had evaded the police for months
© Provided by SowetanLive

For two months Given “Nkunzi” Mnguni hid under the noses of police who had him as the No 1 suspect in the criminal activities of the feared Mamelodi gang, Boko Haram. 

Mnguni died in a hail of bullets on the N4 highway on Tuesday, several weeks after he allegedly went into hiding after the murders of two of his fellow gang members at the popular Santorini Pub in Mamelodi West in August. 

Mnguni had been allegedly living in a shack in Lethabong informal settlement, outside Mamelodi, the township east of Pretoria, while he was in hiding. 

Gauteng police on Wednesday confirmed that Mnguni was the “most wanted” suspect sought by the task team assigned to look into Boko Haram’s reign of terror in the township. 

“Given was the most wanted by the team in relation to the Boko Haram activities,” said police spokesperson Brig Brenda Muridili on Wednesday.

Muridili confirmed that police were investigating eight murders, including Mnguni’s, and that no arrests have been made in connection with all the killings. 

Despite being in hiding, Mnguni was able to conduct his business and still benefited from money collected from foreign-owned tuck shops in the township, according to a close friend Sowetan spoke to. 

Mnguni’s friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Sowetan that Mnguni lived in an informal settlement where he was not known to locals. 

“Since the Santorini murders, Nkunzi ran away from Mamelodi and went to live in Lethabong informal settlement.

“He also didn’t drive a flashy car; he used a Polo to get around and that allowed him to blend in [in the informal settlement], and that’s one of the reasons why they could not find him,” he said.

The associate told Sowetan that Mnguni’s murder was allegedly orchestrated by members of his own gang. 

“Since he went into hiding, he and his boys agreed to meet on specific dates where Mnguni would be given money collected from businesses in Mamelodi. It seems like they followed him or had an idea of what his route was. He was on his way to collect money [when he was shot],” he said.

The associate described Mnguni as a feared leader of his gang who stepped on people’s toes on his way up the ranks. 

At Mnguni’s home on Wednesday, his family was preparing for his burial. 

A relative, who asked not to be named, told Sowetan that Mnguni’s death came as a shock to them. 

“We have heard what people say on the streets. We’ve been reading things that people have posted about him on social media but that is not who he was,” said the relative. 

The family member said Mnguni was a loving family man who, despite being unemployed, provided for his family. 

“He was a qualified electrical engineer. He couldn’t find a job but he did odd jobs and would provide for the family where he could. He was a neat guy, always smiling and always in a good mood,” said the relative. 

The relative said he did not know whether Mnguni had been in hiding because they last saw each other a few weeks ago. 

“He lived at home with his mother and I would see him oftentimes when I came to see his mother,” said the relative. 

Mnguni’s family refused to address allegations that their son was the leader of the gang that terrorised Mamelodi. 

“Police have been coming to this house since he was killed on Wednesday [Tuesday]. They are asking us questions we don’t have answers to,” said the relative. 

A resident who knew Mnguni since they were children said before news of Mnguni’s death hit Mamelodi his gun-wielding lieutenants were seen driving around the township and collecting money from local businesses. 

“I don’t think they knew at the time that he was dead. Everybody was happy to hear that he was dead because our lives have been in danger,” said the resident. 

Asked how Mnguni was given the moniker of “Nkunzi”, the resident said: “He took it from the character of Nkunzi  [from soapie Uzalo, portrayed by Masoja Msiza] who set off some explosives that he had strapped onto himself and he survived. Given used explosives to carry out a robbery in Mamelodi and he started calling himself Nkunzi in 2019.”

Residents in the area said they had no sympathy for Mnguni. 

Local Solly Makaung said: “I am saddened by the lives and livelihoods that were affected by this boy’s actions. I am grieving his death, but I am happy Mamelodi will be more peaceful now.”

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