The family of one of the shooting victims who died on the Putfontein bridge in Benoni on Sunday afternoon has enlisted the help of a team of private investigators to unravel the motive behind the senseless murders and bring the perpetrators to book, reports Benoni City Times.
Johanco Fleischman 19, and his girlfriend, Jessica Kuhn 24, both from Petit, were gunned down while waiting for assistance after their bakkie ran out of fuel, just before midday.
Vince Harris, a justice specialist private investigator in serious violent crime, said a team of three private investigators working for Mike Bolhuis, who owns a private investigation business, were requested to assist by Fleischman’s family.
The team, comprising Harris, Tony Naidoo and Cecil Benade, all of whom have previously served in the police force, is working with the Provincial Organised Crime Unit to solve the murders.
According to Harris, his team believes the incident was neither an intended robbery nor an organised hit.
“We suspect those associated with the zama zamas in the area are behind the attack.
“The illegal mining industry is a well-organised crime syndicate and occurs across the country.
“There is an organisational flow from the illegal miners on the ground all the way up the chain and even beyond the borders of the country.
“They were at the scene for nearly two hours after the vehicle they were travelling in ran out of fuel.
“My colleagues and I believe the suspects were watching them during this time.
“The deceased were likely to appear to the suspects as buyers or people working with other zama zamas.
“The war (turf war) between miners is all over South Africa and there is a lot of competition in this business.”
The private investigator explained that it seemed like the suspects had time to evaluate the situation.
Harris, who spoke to witnesses, said the events leading up to the incident unfolded as follows:
- The couple, along with two other passengers, identified as workers, were travelling from a pig farm in Kendal.
- The vehicle they were travelling in ran out of fuel.
- The victims decided to take the off-ramp to park the vehicle and requested help from an acquaintance over the phone.
- The acquaintance was responsible for bringing fuel to the victims.
- Fleischman was outside the vehicle with the workers, waiting for assistance.
- Kuhn, who was previously reported from information provided by SAPS as being outside the vehicle, was in fact inside the vehicle during the incident.
- The suspects, who had been watching the victims, then approached the vehicle and called Fleischman a mlungu (white person) just before they opened fire.
- Kuhn was shot fatally in the upper body and Fleischman was shot in the head and upper body.
- One of the workers, who was with the victims at the time of the shooting, ran towards the highway, running approximately 8km before he could find help.
- The second worker ran down Putfontein Road and was shot at by the suspects while he was running. The worker was not hit by the bullets.
- The acquaintance bringing fuel for the vehicle was approximately five minutes away when the incident happened.
- Fourteen 9mm cartridges were found at the crime scene.
According to Kuhn’s father, Theuns, the funeral for his daughter will take place on Saturday (June 1) at 1pm at the old Apostolic Church in Kipling Road, Farrarmere.
He added that Fleischman’s funeral will take place on Friday at noon at the NG Kerk on High Road, Brentwood Park.
“We are devastated but we have to live with this now, I hope the guilty parties are caught and that justice prevails,” the emotional father said.
Shootouts in the area
Benoni City Times received information from a concerned resident in the Putfontein area that shootouts are a regular occurrence.
“The shoot-outs can be heard almost every night,” said the resident, who chose to remain anonymous.
“I suspect it’s the zama zamas fighting among themselves.
“On May 13, I called the Crystal Park SAPS to inform them of the shoot-out as this time it seemed to be between the zama zamas and the police.”
However, Crystal Park SAPS spokesperson Alex Mokete said the shootout between police and the zama zamas could not be confirmed.