The so-called “Fence Ninja” has been arrested again, this time in the Pretoria central business district and with an unlicensed firearm on him, but the question is whether the charges will stick this time.
Police spokesperson Captain Ilse Jones said members of the Pretoria police were on patrol on Thursday last week when they spotted a suspicious-looking man.
The man was searched and police found the firearm on him. Jones said it was later discovered that the firearm belonged to a victim of a house robbery that occurred earlier that day in Garsfontein, in Pretoria.
She said detectives from the Garsfontein police station were in the process of linking this current case of house robbery and the possession of a stolen unlicensed firearm to other cases, including trespassing, theft and housebreaking.
Jones said the 38-year-old suspect – alleged to be an illegal immigrant from Mozambique – would appear in court again on Friday.
The Fence Ninja, who got his nickname for his ability to scale even the highest wall, was arrested in June after months of efforts by the police and the community.
For months, the suspect is said to have terrorised Garsfontein, moving from block to block and stealing, but never getting caught.
He was then charged with 16 counts of housebreaking and theft. However, he was set free as his arrest was deemed unlawful.
This led to a community protest by about 200 people outside the Garsfontein police station.
He was arrested again in June when a vigilant police reservist recognised his face at the Pick n Pay centre in Garsfontein. However, after appearing in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, Mahlangu was allowed to walk free again because none of the victims had laid any charges against him.
At the time, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku could not immediately comment, but undertook to investigate the circumstances of his release and comment later.