South Africa

AKA murder case: Six arrested, including alleged mastermind


Six suspects have been arrested in connection with the high-profile murder case of rapper Kiernan “AKA” Jarryd Forbes and his close friend and celebrity chef Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane, the police have confirmed.

Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola hosted a press briefing late on Tuesday night at the Saps KwaZulu-Natal provincial offices, where Cele confirmed that six suspects were in custody and that they were expected to appear in court on Thursday.

AKA was the main target

According to the minister, Forbes was the main target of the alleged hit; however, the motive for his killing is still unknown at this time.

“From our investigation, it became clear that Mr Forbes was the main target. He is the one that was followed from the airport to the hotel, and he was the one that was spotted inside the restaurant.

“The plan was not to shoot him in the manner that they did; they were going to shoot him in the vehicle, but because he stood outside longer greeting his friend, the hitmen did not want to wait,” KwaZulu-Natal provincial police commissioner Lt-Genl Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said.

Motsoane was shot by coincidence, the police said.

This comes after a report on Monday by the Times of eSwatini on the arrest of two suspects allegedly linked to the execution-style killings of AKA and Tibz outside Durban’s Wish restaurant on 10 February 2023.

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Mkhwanazi, however, refuted claims that the suspects who were apprehended on Friday, 23 February in the Kingdom of Eswatini, were linked to the AKA murder investigation.

According to him, the suspects are scheduled to be extradited to South Africa in order to face charges of attempted murder and murder in relation to an incident that occurred on 6 March, 2023, in Berea, when a man was shot and killed while riding in a vehicle.

Six suspects in custody

In the latest update, Mkhwanazi said the mastermind or co-ordinator of the crime, two shooters, two spotters (one inside and another outside) observing the Mass Country rapper, and the organiser of firearms and vehicles used were in police custody, with four in South Africa already.

“The organiser initially followed Mr Forbes from the airport on arrival all the way to the hotel as well as to the restaurant where the incident happened. This person was also responsible for gathering resources together, the whole team together, and the rewards that came thereafter,” the provincial commissioner said.

“The second suspect in custody is the person who supplied the vehicles and firearms, and that person was also linked to two other murder cases. The third one is a shooter who was linked to another murder case.

“We have another spotter who was just outside the restaurant, who is also linked to another case, and another spotter who was outside Wish, who is linked to two other murder cases, and we have the shooter, as a sixth person, who is linked to another murder case.”

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Four vehicles, firearms and cartilages recovered

The police also confirmed that they recovered four vehicles linked to the case, a firearm, and cartilages that were linked to another crime scene.

The first vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz, was recovered on 6 March 2023; the firearm used to kill Forbes and Motsoane was recovered 22 April 2023; a BMW (which followed Forbes around Durban) was recovered on 2 August 2023; a grey Hyundai i10 was recovered on 20 October 2023; and on 23 October 2023, the last vehicle, a Polo, was recovered.

“All these recoveries were kept on police premises, and we processed them. The last two vehicles were hired,” Mkhwanazi said.

Mkhwanazi said that once the suspects were identified, the police used a strategy to look at the parallel cases the suspects were involved in and used them to keep the suspects in custody. 

“The reason for that is because we wanted to make sure we got almost all the suspects, especially the organiser of the hit, so after identifying everyone else, we could realise that four of the six had parallel cases,” the provincial commissioner said. 

Timeline of arrests

According to the police, the first suspect was arrested on 22 April 2023 for organising the firearms and vehicles; the second suspect was arrested on 24 October; the third suspect was arrested on 14 December and after chasing two suspects for a year, the police found the house where they were hiding in within the Kingdom of Eswatini on Saturday.

“We approached the NPA; an affidavit was prepared, and we submitted it through Interpol in order to request authorities to help us catch them.

“These two were arrested on Saturday morning in Eswatini for other cases… We had a warrant of arrest for the last two, including the main guy, and without him, this case would not have been strong,” Mkhwanazi said.

Unfortunately, on Monday, when the Times of eSwatini report broke, the sixth and last suspect the police were looking for went on the run, but he handed himself over to custody on Tuesday afternoon.

The police further said there is a possibility of other suspects, but the case is strong with the six already in custody.

Additional reporting by Cornelia Le Roux