Police negotiators failed to free journo

Thembela Khamango

Thembela Khamango

A police hostage specialist yesterday described how he had tried to negotiate the release of Sowetan reporter Vusi Ndlovu with Jackey Maarohanye's lieutenants.

Inspector Robert Katshelo was one of three police hostage negotiators on the scene at the Ithuteng Trust school in Kliptown, Soweto. Katshelo was testifying in the Protea magistrates' court in the trial of Maarohanye, 49, Patricia Molaba, 34, Ronnie Nyakale, 34, and Thembi Dladla, 21.

They are charged with assaulting and kidnapping Ndlovu on February 17.

Katshelo said that when he arrived at the school he was told that Ndlovu and his driver were being held hostage.

"I tried to negotiate but I could not because the picketers were making [too much] noise," he testified.

Katshelo said a second negotiator arrived at the scene and she went with him to negotiate with Molaba and Dladla at the school's gate.

"Molaba demanded that the police officers leave the yard and that Sowetan news editor Willie Bokala come in and apologise for sending Ndlovu there," Katshelo said.

He told the court that the police met the first demand and the officers left the Ithuteng Trust's premises, but they decided not to send Bokala into the crowd in the school.

Katshelo told the court that another negotiator arrived to help him and his colleague. They went back to the school's gate to continue the negotiations.

Their efforts failed to secure Ndlovu's release, Katshelo said.