Falsely accused, arrested, tortured...then murdered

Domestic worker’s husband also gunned down

09 November 2023 - 07:11
By Noxolo Sibiya and Jeanette Chabalala
Cops accused of toturing and assaulting a woman appeared in the Randburg magistrates court on Wednesday
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE Cops accused of toturing and assaulting a woman appeared in the Randburg magistrates court on Wednesday

The woman who was gunned down ahead of her testimony against four police officers on Wednesday was a domestic worker who was arrested and tortured overnight after being wrongfully accused of orchestrating a robbery at her workplace in 2018.

The victim and her husband were shot and killed outside the Randburg magistrate's court in an apparent hit ahead of her testimony against four officers accused of her assault. She was expected to be cross-examined about her alleged torture at the hands of the four police officers.

She had given evidence in chief last week, telling the court how police officers took her to a house where they beat her up. She later opened a case against the officers.

The woman was in October 2018 accused of being part of a group of people who robbed her workplace in Midrand.

A source close to the investigation said the woman was held hostage during the robbery however there was a suspicion that she organised the robbery which led to her being arrested. 

A group of officers arrested her and kept her overnight at the Alexandra cluster office where they allegedly tortured her overnight. The following morning, one of the police officers who arrested her "realised" that the woman did not know anything about the robbery. She was then released and taken back to Midrand, said the source.

Robbie Raburabu from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said the matter has been on trial since 2020.

"The case went for a decision and the DPP [director of public prosecutions] decided to issue some summons for them [the officers] to appear in court and they started appearing in court on November 18 2020. It has been on trial with postponements since that time. Several witnesses have already testified," he said.

Police spokesperson Lt-Col Mavela Masondo said the police were still searching for the suspects behind the killing of the couple. 

"It is reported that the suspects were driving in a black Mercedes Benz. The motive for the killing cannot be confirmed at this stage. The victims were certified dead at the scene. A case of murder is being investigated," Masondo said yesterday.

Inside the court, the defence lawyer made an application for the identities of the accused men not to be made public, citing they were not suspects in the murder case which is yet to be heard in court. The order was granted unopposed by the state. 

State prosecutor Yusuf Baba then made an urgent application for the state to seize the cellphones and firearms of the officers and to have them tested for gunpowder residue. 

Lt-Col Andile Mankayi, the investigating officer in the woman's assault case, told the court that it was important that the police urgently obtain these items.

"It became vital to the investigating team that we take the investigation differently and that anyone will be treated as a possible suspect. And it became vital also that we acquire or take primary residue powder tests, which is the gunpowder test, from the accused sitting before court....and also seize their cellphones and firearms in their possession. 

“We are not saying these are our suspects, but we are doing our investigation in eliminating any possible people that we are looking at. It is very important [that we urgently conduct the gunpowder residue test] because it has to be done within a certain time period after the incident happened.”

Granting the order, magistrate Godwin Sadiki said the police officers must cooperate with the investigating officer and should hand in their phones and firearms immediately. 

“The time and the place will be determined by the investigating officer. I need to emphasis this, that as soon as the investigations are done their phones need to be handed back to them. I do understand the fact that ballistics is something that is done by the forensic investigators and that might take time. But the cellphones [must be handed back]; if investigations are done today, then the phones must be handed in today.”