Strange behaviour alerted cops

McKeed Kotlolo

Shortly after the burial of Limpopo pharmacist Andrew Tladi, his widow behaved strangely - conduct that led police to investigate her.

Head of the investigating team, Superintendent Khwara Nengwekhulu, told Sowetan that Kgomotso Tladi behaved strangely during and after her husband's funeral at GaMarishane, Limpopo, on December 11 2004.

The first thing she did to trigger suspicion was her decision to leave her in-laws' residence early and ignore traditional rituals normally performed by the elderly after the death of a spouse.

She also failed to honour an appointment with her father- in-law, who had travelled 300km to Pretoria to discuss several issues including the traditional cleansing ceremony.

"It was at this stage that together with my 11-member investigating team we began to look for more clues relating to Tladi's murder," Nengwekhulu said.

Police then approached Tladi and started an analysis of her cellphone calls.

"We established that shortly after her husband's murder, his [Andrew's] cellphone was used to call her and her friend Eva Sithole.

"This told us that both were in contact with the killers," said Nengwekhulu.

Police also established that the widow was in regular contact with a person only known as Isaac, whom she described as her lover. She could not however take the police to him.

Police later found out that Isaac was in fact one of the hitmen, Samson Mogalaka, who was assigned by her to kill Tladi in Polokwane.

Upon hearing he was being sought by the police, Mogalaka exchanged the SIM card in the murdered man's cellphone with the one owned by a person known as Jan Tsoko, who was promised R10000.

Nengwekhulu said they met Tsoko and after the interview they visited Sithole and questioned her at length on December 30 2004.

"Based on the information we got from Sithole, we managed to arrest her [Sithole], Tladi's widow, Mogalaka, Gilbert Makhobela and Gustav Snyman," said Nengwekhulu.

Tladi's widow, Sithole who is also a traditional healer, Mogalaka and Makhobela were each sentenced to life imprisonment for Tladi's murder by Judge Nico Coetzee in the Middelburg circuit court last week.

Snyman, who turned state witness, was immune from prosecution.

The Limpopo provincial task team, which came to be known as "Vuvuzela", was formed immediately after Tladi's gruesome murder.

He was abducted from his townhouse, driven to a secluded place in Marble Hall, where Mogalaka shot and killed him inside the boot of his Mercedes-Benz on December 4 2004.

Nengwekhulu praised his team for following every detail that led to the arrest and conviction of the killers.

About the sentence Nengwekhulu said: "It fits the crime. It will also send a strong message to the community and partners that intended benefiting from unlawful activities."

State advocate Thembeni Maenga said justice had been done.