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Top sleuth’s death shocks the nation

Brig Mkhaulesi spent over three decades in SAPS

Brig Jackson Mkhaulesi’s sudden death has left many shocked
Brig Jackson Mkhaulesi’s sudden death has left many shocked
Image: Supplied

Dressed in a black coat with a stern face, Brig Jackson Mkhaulesi cut an intimidating figure at the back of the Bloemfontein high court yesterday where he recorded his first victory against accused Dr Nandipha Magudumana.

It would be his last.

Hours later, Mkhaulesi, a lead investigator in the Thabo Bester prison escape case, was found dead in what is believed to have been a suicide that shocked the nation. 

A decorated master sleuth who earned accolades such as the second provincial best-improved detective in Ficksburg and runner-up best detective commander in 2009, according to an article published in the Goldfields & NFS, Mkhaulesi had 31 years in the police service. He was voted the best detective commander in 2012 and 2013.

Mkhaulesi was found dead in his car in Bloemfontein with a gunshot wound. The impact of the bullet shuttered one of the window’s of the car. 

Mkhaulesi was last seen earlier in court where Magudumana was challenging her arrest in Tanzania and including her deportation to SA.

Judge Phillip Loubser, who slapped Magudumana with a cost order for two counsels, said it was evident the process used to bring Magudumana back to SA was extradition without due process and not deportation. 

Before Loubser exited the court, Mkhaulesi could be seen standing up with those in the gallery showing little emotion about the outcome of Magudumana’s case. 

National police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola confirmed Mkhaulesi’s death.

“Circumstances surrounding the senior officer’s death, who is also the provincial head responsible for organised crime in the Free State province, remains the subject of a police investigation,” said Masemola in a statement. .

Masemola described Mkhaulesi as a hardworking, loyal and dedicated detective.

“Over the years he has proven himself to be a highly-skilled detective with a wealth of experience and knowledge in crime detection. His departure leaves a void in the SAPS detective environment. On behalf of the SAPS, our sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of our officer,” said Masemola.

SA Police Union’s secretary in the Free State, Lebohang Helepi, told Sowetan that if Mkhaulesi was murdered, the police should treat the case as treason.

“A death of a member is big loss to us. Having to lose a member who has between 25 to 30 years experience in the SAPS is very worrying and doesn’t sit quite well with us,” said Helepi.

He, however, said it was highly unlikely that the Bester escape case would be affected by Mkhaulesi’s death.

“The death of the member [should] not [be] fatal to the case. The normal practice in the SAPS is that when you’re working on a file, you don’t work on the file alone,” he said.

Helepi said a brigadier was the first level of senior management in the police and it was rare to find them being hands-on with the case.

“A brigadier serves an intermediary between his subordinates and the provincial leadership, especially when it comes to high-profile cases, as they have an interest in the matter. It is in rare cases where you’d find a brigadier carrying a case file,” said Helepi.

“A brigadier would be overseeing the entire investigation. But it hardly happens that you would find a brigadier going out there to gather evidence.”

Mkhaulesi joined the SAPS in 1992. He grew up in Botshabelo and worked in the police station in the area as well as cop shops in Park Road, Batho, Mangaung, Kopanong, Bloemfontein and Ficksburg.

“There is nothing impossible for a willing  heart. If you are committed and have a passion for what you are doing you can move mountains,” he told Goldfields & NFS.

Popcru Free State chairperson Thabo Lefalatsa said he was saddened by his death. “He was a hardworking and committed police leader who wanted to ensure the safety of all citizens of this country.

“He was a detective officer who used to lead from the front and he was a people’s person. We had a sound working relationship with him as the head of organised crime in the province,” said Lefalatsa.                           

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