Cosas triple murder case from 40 years ago postponed for cop to get legal aid

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The case against two apartheid-era policemen, Thlomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa and Christian Siebert Rorich, has been postponed to November 19. Stock Image
The case against two apartheid-era policemen, Thlomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa and Christian Siebert Rorich, has been postponed to November 19. Stock Image
Image: 123RFEvgenyi Lastochkin

The case against two former apartheid-era police officers arrested in connection with the murder of three student activists in Krugersdorp on the West Rand almost 40 years ago has been postponed in the high court in Johannesburg to November 19.

This is to allow for one of the accused, Christian Siebert Rorich, to obtain legal assistance.

The case of Thlomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa and Rorich stems from the killing of three Congress of SA Students (Cosas) members - Eustice “Bimbo” Madikela, Ntshingo Mataboge and Fanyana Nhlapo - and the attempted killing of Zandisile Musi, who survived an explosion inside a pumphouse in Krugersdorp on February 15 1982.

Johannesburg  high court judge Majake Mabesele on Monday granted the request for the postponement by Rorich’s lawyer, who indicated he needed legal assistance from the police.

The prosecution expressed unhappiness with the postponement, and said the case concerned an event which happened 40 years ago and it should be speedily processed.

The prosecution said other police members accused during the apartheid-era, such as the late Joao Rodrigues - accused of the murder of activist Ahmed Timol - obtained legal assistance from the police.

The prosecution undertook to help speed up the process for Rorich to obtain assistance.

Mfalapitsa, a former Vlakplaas policeman, made his first court appearance in August.

Rorich, a former explosives expert and security branch officer, made his first appearance in connection with the murders last month.

In court papers, the state alleges that before Mfalapitsa joined the security branch, he had a close relationship with Musi's two older brothers who served with him in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC in exile.

After he defected, Mfalapitsa established contact with Musi, who was a member of Cosas. 

Musi and the three deceased wanted to leave the country to join the ANC in exile with a group of other comrades.

Musi explored the possibility of leaving the country with Mfalapitsa, whom he erroneously still regarded as a member of MK, unaware that he had become a so-called askari.

Mfalapitsa was allegedly ordered by Jan Carel Coetzee, a commander at Vlakplaas, to lure Musi and the three deceased to the pumphouse - where a bomb had been planted - at a mine near Krugersdorp under the guise of giving them military training.

The bomb detonated, killing them instantly. Musi survived the explosion, but was severely injured.

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