How killer Rosemary Ndlovu tried to claim payout from behind bars
Investigating officer's son was also targeted
It has been two weeks since the sentencing of SA’s most notorious female serial killer, Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu, and information about her devious criminal deeds continues to surface.
Sowetan's sister publication TimesLIVE has learnt that being behind bars did not stop the cop-turned-serial-killer from trying to lodge more insurance claims for her deceased relatives.
According to Sgt Keshi Benneth Mabunda, who was the investigating officer in her case, several months after her arrest Ndlovu began calling for insurance policies from her jail cell, wanting to lodge claims for the death of her younger sister, Runny.
However, unlike other relatives who Ndlovu had killed, Runny had fallen ill and died in 2018 after Ndlovu was arrested for trying to kill their other sister, Joyce Ndlovu, and her five children in Bushbuckridge.
Ndlovu was arrested after a police sting operation in which she was recorded telling hitmen to kill Joyce and her children by burning them alive in their house. She had wanted to make it look like an accidental death which would result in her getting a hefty sum from insurance policies.
Five of her relatives and her lover lost their lives in brutal murders between 2012 and 2018, all of which led to her pocketing R1.4m in life and funeral insurance policies.
For these murders, Ndlovu was handed six life terms earlier this month and more than 100 more years for defrauding insurance companies, conspiring to kill Joyce and her children and attempting to kill her elderly mother.
Speaking to TimesLIVE from his Olifantsfontein office, Mabunda said when Ndlovu again tried to tap into insurance funds, he had red-flagged her among insurance companies as he continued investigating the case, trying to uncover exactly how many other relatives she had killed to claim from insurance funds.
Mabunda said he was surprised when he got a call from an insurance company wanting to verify Ndovu’s whereabouts and the status of her case after they had received a telephonic claim from her.
“At that point, I was busy with another case against her, because she was posing threats to me,” Mabunda said.
She had hired people to kill me and had said if she doesn’t kill me, she will make me suffer by getting to my son at school. She had said she knows where my son goes to school and would bury him alive.Sgt Keshi Benneth Mabunda
“She had hired people to kill me and had said if she doesn’t kill me, she will make me suffer by getting to my son at school. She had said she knows where my son goes to school and would bury him alive,” said Mabunda, who explained how Ndlovu’s incarceration did not prevent her plotting and wanting to hire people to carry out crimes on her behalf.
The threats reached Mabunda through a police informant. Mabunda opened a case against Ndlovu and beefed up security around his family while keeping them in the dark about the threats made against them.
Mabunda rocked from side to side on his chair during our talk with him. Plastered on one wall in his office were papers dealing with Ndlovu’s case and detailing when and where her victims were killed. Also on the wall were drawings and letters from Mabunda’s son and a picture of him.
“I became extra protective but there was no way I could tell them because this would make them afraid,” he said.
Mabunda said he would attend his son’s extramural activities and drop him at home, ordering him to stay indoors. Whenever his wife knocked off after night shift, he would wait for her at her workplace and escort her home, telling her he was concerned the make of their vehicle made her a potential target for hijackings.
Eventually, they changed the family car after he noticed it was being tailed. He didn't tell his wife the reason until after the case was concluded.
Mabunda smiled when he explained how shocked Ndlovu was when he went to visit her behind bars, accompanied by an official from the insurance company who wanted to confirm her incarceration.
They made her sign documents from the insurance company. No payments were made after Runny’s death. Instead, Mabunda pursued an application to have Ndlovu moved from the Johannesburg prison where she was kept to Kgosi Mampuru, a C-Max facility with more stringent security.
Mabunda said it was this failed insurance claim that led to him discovering that though police had taken Ndlovu’s phone and sim card for further investigation after her arrest, she had managed to get a phone and sim swap done, allowing her to continue communication with the outside world from the same number police were investigating.
He recalled his first interaction with Ndlovu after her arrest.
She must relax where she is, show some remorse, reach out to the families and tell them what happened, and inform them how she did it, because I still believe there are hitmen she was using who killed people with her. She must take them out.Sgt Keshi Benneth Mabunda
“She said she had been told I was going to arrest her. I asked her who had told her and she said she was told this ‘everywhere she went’. I'm not sure whether she was referring to sangomas or prophets,” he said.
The officer said Ndlovu had tried to get Mabunda off her back, even offering him a bribe, but he refused and told her to “get a good lawyer”.
Mabunda said his investigations had led him to believe Ndlovu’s modus operandi of insuring and killing for cash began way before 2012, when her cousin Witness Madala Homu was found murdered in Kaalfontein, outside Tembisa. She claimed R131,000 for his death and contributed R200 for his funeral.
Mabunda said there were possibly other relatives who died before Homu and that he and the prosecution team were conducting investigations.
This included Ndlovu’s firstborn child, Jaunty Khoza, who died at the age of 13 in 2008 from suspected poisoning.
He believes “greediness and gambling” drove Ndlovu to kill. The former police sergeant was known as a regular at Emperors Palace casino in Kempton Park, where according to Mabunda and Ndlovu’s relatives she once won a car.
“She liked gambling. She was always there.”
She would even miss work for gambling, Mabunda said.
Taking us through the court case, Mabunda said throughout his interactions with Ndlovu, he had known her as a humble and calm person but was surprised when she flipped the script and became dramatic when the media started following her proceedings. Ndlovu was seen lashing out at the media and hurling food at them, which led to her being shackled and handcuffed.
With the case concluded, Mabunda said he found “she was very manipulative and denied the truth”.
He said he was satisfied with the sentences the killer received, adding this was not an easy case because circumstantial evidence was all he had to go on.
“I was happy because she will be gone for good and this will be a learning curve for those who may think of doing the same.”
After her sentencing, Ndlovu made a dramatic exit from the courtroom, telling witnesses she would spend this Christmas behind bars but would be back for them next year.
Mabunda said this was simply the “the last kick of a dying horse”.
Asked what his final message to Ndlovu would be, Mabunda chuckled: “She must relax where she is, show some remorse, reach out to the families and tell them what happened, and inform them how she did it, because I still believe there are hitmen she was using who killed people with her. She must take them out.”