WATCH | Exclusive footage of woman ‘ordering hitmen to kill sister, kids’
Former police officer Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu told an undercover officer and ‘hitman’ to ‘leave no witnesses behind’
As the high court sitting in Palm Ridge on the East Rand was on Monday expected to start hearing the defence of former police constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu, an alleged serial killer accused of murdering her family members in return for insurance payouts, TimesLIVE brings you exclusive footage, presented in court, which has been crucial in the state’s case against her.
The footage was allegedly captured by an undercover police officer who had hidden the recording device in the car in which he, Ndlovu and another recruited “hitman” were travelling.
The trio was headed to Bushbuckridge, where Ndlovu was due to show them her sister’s house. She allegedly wanted the two men to burn her sister, Joyce, and her five children alive in the house.
In her own words, Ndlovu said they should “leave no witnesses behind”.
In the recording, Ndlovu explained how she had earlier checked herself into hospital to create an alibi and then secured a day pass to leave the premises.
En route to Bushbuckridge, they stopped at a garage in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where she purchased two litres of petrol and handed it to the undercover officer. The petrol was meant to be used to ignite the flames that would wipe out six of her family members.
It was also in this footage, taken during their five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Bushbuckridge, that she allegedly provided a motive for wanting her sister dead.
“You know I don’t have money,” Ndlovu is heard saying, addressing the alleged hitman, Njabulo Kunene. “You know I’m doing this so I can get a bit of money. You’ve seen that my car is on the brink of being repossessed. I don’t have money,” she said.
Ndlovu seemed unshaken and nonchalant about knowing her sister’s children would also die in the fire.
When asked by the undercover officers whether the policies she had also covered the children, she replied: “It won’t pay out for the children, only for [the mother]. But they cannot be left behind since they will be there too. You know that sparing them will mean leaving behind witnesses. So when a house burns down, everyone burns with it.”
She had allegedly hoped the fire would be ruled as an accident and she would cash in on a large sum of money from the insurance policies.
Ndlovu was nabbed moments after she had pointed out her sister’s house to the “hitmen” and boarded a taxi back to Johannesburg, where she was rushing to return to the Carstenhof Hospital in Midrand to cement her alibi.
It was through her work as a police officer at the Thembisa South police station that Ndlovu allegedly met two “hitmen” she hired to kill her mother, sisters, nieces and nephews.
The men, Kunene and Lakhiwe Mkhize, were crucial to the state’s case as Ndlovu’s trial played out in the court.
The court heard Kunene had been arrested several years ago by Ndlovu on a gun possession charge. He was later cleared of the charge. He alleged that in 2017 he was approached by Ndlovu, who said she wanted him to kill his sister, Gladys.
Gladys lived in Pholosong in Thembisa. Shocked by this request, Kunene told his friend Mkhize about this. Mkhize was present when Ndlovu allegedly met Kunene to follow up on her request and he was roped into the murder plot. Together, they drove to Gladys’s house.
They claimed they were promised R15,000 for Gladys’s life. They were given R800 as a down payment for petrol. However, they never carried out the plot and avoided Ndlovu.
In February 2018, Ndlovu approached Mkhize and allegedly said this time she had another target, her elderly mother, Maria Mushwana, who lived in Thulamahashe, Buckbuckridge. Mkhize was allegedly paid R2,600 for the job and taken to Bushbuckridge, where he was shown the house.
Mkhize, however, failed to execute the killing.
He said when he arrived at the elderly woman’s house, he was moved by how vulnerable and fragile she was. Instead, he asked for a glass of water and left, taking off with Ndlovu’s money.
The 80-year-old Mushwana is expected to be among those who will testify in Ndlovu’s defence.
A month after the alleged botched hit on her mother, Ndlovu is alleged to have returned to her initial “hitman”, Kunene, and told him she wanted her sister Joyce and her five children — the youngest was five months old — killed. She allegedly wanted them burnt alive in their Bushbuckridge home.
Ndlovu had insinuated that none of the six should survive.
Kunene agreed, but was disturbed by Ndlovu’s heinous plot, so he approached the police and shared the information.
Police set up a sting operation and sent Kunene back to Ndlovu with an undercover police officer, who posed as Kunene’s accomplice.
Alleged trail of bodies
The state alleged that Ndlovu had, over the years, cashed more than R1.4m after the deaths of six of her loved ones. Her victims were listed as:
- Her cousin Witness Madala Homu. He was murdered in March 2012 on his way home from work. His body was found dumped in Johannesburg and he had sustained head injuries. The state alleged Ndlovu had hired a hitman to carry out this crime. She claimed more than R131,000 from policies after his death, but did not assist his family with the funeral.
- Her sister Audrey Somisa Ndlovu. She was found poisoned and strangled to death in her rented room in Thembisa in June 2013. Ndlovu is alleged to have taken out numerous policies in her sister’s name. She is also alleged to have called the insurance companies while posing as Audrey. It was then that she listed herself as a beneficiary to Audrey’s policies. Ndlovu claimed more than R717,000 in insurance.
- Her boyfriend Yingwani Maurice Mabasa. He died in October 2015 after being stabbed more than 80 times. His body was dumped near the Olifantsfontein police station. None of his valuables were taken. The state alleged Ndlovu had taken out several policies in Mabasa’s name and had recruited a man to take out life-insurance policies while posing as Mabasa. On some insurance policies she had listed Mabasa as her spouse and herself as the beneficiary. She paid the premiums and cashed more than R416,000 after Mabasa’s death. She contributed R40,000 to his funeral.
- Her niece Zanele Motha. She died in June 2016 after claims she had been attacked in the streets of Kempton Park. At the time Motha was visiting Ndlovu. Two days before her death, she had been treated at the Thembisa Hospital for scratches and bruises which she said came after she was hit by a bicycle. On her second admission, Motha was rushed to the Arwyp Medical Centre in Kempton Park, where she was found to have suffered fractured ribs and a damaged liver. Ndlovu allegedly cashed in almost R120,000 in policies for Motha. She did not assist the family when it came to burial costs.
- Her nephew Mayeni Mashaba. He died in April 2017, on the same day he had arranged to meet Ndlovu in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni. His body was found dumped near Olifantsfontein with major head injuries. His cellphone records put him in the same location as Ndlovu at the time of his death. It was not immediately clear whether she had claimed on policies after his death.
- Her nephew Brilliant Mashego. He was the son of Audrey, whom Ndlovu is accused of killing several years earlier. Mashego died in January 2018 after allegedly catching wind of news that Ndlovu had pocketed cash after his mother’s death. Ndlovu had taken Mashego under her wing with a promise that she would help him find a job. Mashego’s body was dumped at a marketplace in Bushbuckridge a few days after he had left home to allegedly meet Ndlovu. It was unclear whether she claimed on any policies after Mashego’s death.
Last week, the state closed its case. Besides leading evidence from the alleged hitmen, the prosecution led testimony from analysts at insurance companies Ndlovu is alleged to have defrauded, cellphone tech experts who placed Ndlovu around some of the crime scenes and her family members, some of whom survived the alleged killing spree.
Now Ndlovu is expected to start presenting her defence. Her brother, Director, is expected to testify for her.
The former police officer has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder or conspiring to commit murder, defeating the ends of justice and fraud.
During her bail application, she indicated she accepted only the charges relating to the conspiracy to commit the murder of Joyce and her five children. She said, however, she would explain this during her trial.
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