WATCH | How tenacious cop cracked Bozwana case

Investigator now out to nail those behind hit of business man

06 February 2024 - 07:00
By Noxolo Sibiya

Mistrust between a team of investigators, missing evidence and death threats.

These are some of the scenes that characterised the eight-year-old investigation into the murder of businessman Wandile Bozwana.

The sentencing of the notorious Pretoria taxi boss Vusi Khekhe Mathibela, with three others brought to an end the long-running case.  

Sgt Evans Butso Mongwe, 50, the lead investigator in the 2015 murder, has revealed how he cracked the case arresting four hitmen including Mathibela.. 

“I would go to court and then find that some annexures were missing from the docket. Investigating this, was dangerous for me, I received threats sometimes, intimidating tactics even from my own colleagues,” said Mongwe. 

Mongwe, attached to the national cold case investigating unit, took on the case the same evening of Bozwana’s killing . 

Little did he know that the victim was a prominent businessman who was murdered by a gangster no one could seemingly touch. 

“I was still a constable at the time. I remember getting a call from my principal assigning me to a murder case in Pretoria. At the time, I was attached to detectives at the provincial office,” he said. 

Wandile Bozwana
Image: Supplied Wandile Bozwana

“When I found out who had been killed, I had an idea of what I might be possibly dealing with... a dangerous case.”  

Mathibela is known for allegedly running an extortion ring in Mamelodi and other parts of Tshwane, forcing businesses, street vendors and taxi drivers to pay protection fees to him. So feared is Mathibela that the mention of his name sends taxi drivers and business people in Mamelodi into a shiver.

Mongwe would bring an end to all of this when he collected overwhelming evidence against Mathibela, linking him and three other suspects to Bozwana’s killing. 

Bozwana was shot and killed while driving along Garsfontein Road in Pretoria while travelling with a business associate, Mpho Baloyi, who survived the attack 

Mongwe sat down with Sowetan to share how he managed to crack, arguably, one of the “most dangerous” cases in Gauteng.  

“ I read the docket and found out who the victim was and that there was a survivor who was taken to the Unitas Hospital,” he said.

He met Baloyi in hospital the following day.

Baloyi was able to map out their movement on the day, sharing where she and Bozwana had been.  Mongwe collected CCTV footage from a salon at the Michelangelo Towers in Sandton,  where the pair had been, as well as footage from a McDonald’s store where they had lunch. 

“I also got footage along the N1 highway near Sanral until the scene of the shooting. I realised in the footage there were people following the pair [from Sandton towards Pretoria].”

He said the highway footage showed how multiple vehicles tailed Bozwana and Baloyi along the N1, eventually ambushing them near the Garsfontein off-ramp. 

Shots were fired from a Silver-grey BMW, a car that was found to have been hijacked earlier that year. All four suspects can be seen in the footage. 

Through informants, police were able to identify of the people in the vehicle as Mathibela, Sipho Patrick Hudla, Matamela Robert Mutapa and Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo. 

To gain a solid case, Mongwe applied for section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act to get permission to access the cellphone records of the suspects and use their cellphones to place them at different scenes. 

“The cellphone records showed how the four accused were in contact with each other. Their cellphones were able to show that everywhere the victims were, they were also in the same vicinity, proving that they were following them.” 

The relentless police officer faced threats to his life and had to be granted a security detail . “I am not scared to die. I know that my life is in danger... For justice to prevail, I must do my job,” he said. 

The four men were arrested in 2015 and 2016, and, in a court case that took nearly a decade, two weeks ago the accused were each sentenced to 30 years in prison for Bozwana’s murder. They were also convicted of the attempted murder of Baloyi and possession of a firearm and ammunition.  

While this was a victory lauded even by the public prosecution office, Mongwe said more would be revealed soon in phase two of the investigation that looks at who called the hit on Bozwana. 

“Those who called the hit on Bozwana, I know them. I know who they are. I am coming for them. They must just know that one day they will receive a surprise visit from me. Even if it is not me someone will knock at their doors one day in the name of this docket ” he said.

He said internally, the case was marred with delays, and what he said may have been interference by some colleagues to prevent him from proceeding with the case.  

Mongwe was operating in an environment of mistrust where he had to play his cards close to his chest.

“I knew that there were people on my team that were compromised and would leak information because I would get phone calls from people questioning me about things only the team and I would know. There were also moves made to try and get me off the case, and transfer me to the Soshanguve police station,” he said. 

“But I contested this and instead I was moved to the national office where I got all the support I needed to continue with the case.” 

“Even with the small team, I had to be cautious because you will never know. I trusted no one,” he said.