Robbers take IDs with them to their graves

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

It's been two years now since the Jeppestown massacre happened, and still two alleged robbers who died in the incident remain unidentified. Nobody came forward to claim their bodies and the government eventually buried them as paupers.

Police Superintendent Gert Serfontein confirmed that the pair were never identified. "The convicted robbers insisted that they had no idea who the two men were. A month after the incident we had hoped that their families would come and identify them but they never did."

The Jeppestown massacre claimed 12 lives, including those of four policemen. The police inspectors killed were Frederick van Heerden, Gert Schoeman, Nzama Victor Mathye and Constable Peter Seaward.

Seaward, 31, had joined the police's Joburg Dog Unit just two months before his death and he had been married for less than five months when he died. Schoeman, 30, had worked for the police for more than a decade. He and his wife Brenda were expecting their second child when he was killed. Brenda gave birth to baby Tregan five months after the murder.

Mathye, 49, a member of the West Rand Dog Unit, was father to Neo, 23, and Terrence, 5.

Van Heerden, 32, was married to colleague Inspector Leonie van Heerden, who was also present at the shootout, where she suffered a minor head wound. Leonie took the stand early this month and broke down when recounting the loss she suffered.

She said: "They [the accused] took away the best thing in my life. He was like a hero to his children. His death traumatised them a lot."

Five of the eight robbers killed were identified as Bonga Zondi, Xolani Sibiya, Siyabonga Khanyile, Phiwayinkosi Nzama and Thokozani Ngwenya.