February 12, 2024

Grindr gang remanded in custody as their matter is postponed again

Outside the Johannesburg Magistrates court GBV brigades came to support the Grindr gang victim
Photo:Sibonelo Zwane

Families of the seven so called "Grindr Gang" members were left frustrated after the matter was postponed once again. When the magistrate confirmed that the matter is postponed to March for the purposes of an identity parade and the appointment of a defence lawyer for the first four accused, one of the girlfriends of the accused angrily shouted, "umsangano ke loyo!" meaning this is pure madness.


Sanele Ndlovu (26), Vikani Khanyeza (28), Sohollo Khumalo (26), Sphamandla Mavundla (33), Lungisani Shabalala (33), Thulani Mazibuko (23) and Khayelihle Zulu (24), are facing charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and extortion. The seven men, all residents of Denver Hostel, are accused of kidnapping a student from the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). The accused allegedly lured the unsuspecting victim, Ayabonga Maphumulo, kidnapped him and took him to Denver Hostel where they held him hostage from a Thursday and only released him on a Monday, badly injured to a point that he was admitted to the hospital's intensive care unit. They tied Maphumulo with a rope on his hands and feet and kept him locked in a room while demanding a

R30 000 ransom from his family for his release. Maphumulo was reported missing by his roommate on 19 September 2023, when he didn't return to his student accommodation.


State prosecutor Tshepo Mahange ka Mzizi asked the court for a further postponement because the identity parade which was intended to take place last week did not happen. "We are still requesting that the accused be kept at a police station so that the victim can identify them. We are also waiting for the appointment of a judicare lawyer for accused 1 to 4 because only accused 5,6 and seven have defence." Transgender activist and socialite Yaya Mavundla said she was pleased that there was progress even though the postponements are disappointing. "I'm just not comfortable with concept of an identity parade because the perpetrators were caught in action so why must the victim go through the trauma of seeing them again. Another thing is the sad reality that victims don't have support from their families, they are on their own so that's why we are here to let them know that they are not alone. I've received about 87 complaints from people who were lured into danger through the Grindr dating app but many of them have been skeptical to make their ordeals public because of how they were treated at police stations." The matter will be back in court early March.

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