Inside Senzo Meyiwa murder cover-up

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By: The Sunday Independent

Senzo Meyiwa was “mistakenly shot”, allegedly by one of the seven people present at the home of his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo, but witnesses claimed it was an imaginary robbery gone wrong in part of a cover-up which involved senior police officers, Sunday Independent can reveal.

Contrary to claims that Meyiwa was killed by armed robbers, the former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was “accidentally” shot when he tried to intervene in a quarrel between Khumalo’s sister, Zandi, and her boyfriend, Longwe Twala, at the singer’s mother’s home in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, on October 26, 2014.

Khumalo’s mother, Ntombi Gladness Khumalo, allegedly also handed Meyiwa’s phone to a neighbour.

The former lead investigator in the case, Colonel Bongani Gininda, is said to have withheld a crucial statement he had received in 2017 on who murdered Meyiwa and why. A case of defeating the ends of justice was opened against him in May this year, but he was mysteriously transferred to KwaZulu-Natal before he was arrested or questioned.

Police sources claim nobody from the National Prosecuting Authority is willing to sign the warrant for his arrest.

These revelations are contained in Meyiwa’s murder docket and other official records seen by the Sunday Independent this week.

This includes the draft charge sheet, sworn supplementary affidavits from neighbours, correspondence letters between the police and the NPA, and a comprehensive police progress report prepared for Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole by former investigation team leader Colonel Gininda in April this year.

In a memo to the Gauteng director of public prosecutions, advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, on August 7, 2019, Johannesburg prosecutors’ boss, advocate Andrew Chauke, said “no contact was made with this office from 10 August 2015 until the docket in the case was handed back to this office on 8 April 2019 after various attempts”.

“In summary, the main purpose of the meeting is to get approval for the appointment of a senior officer to lead the investigation.

“He/she should re-interview the persons in the house, especially the two people from KZN, as it appears that Senzo Meyiwa was shot by accident probably by one of the persons in the house. The witnesses are protecting the identity of that person,” said Chauke.

Sitole’s office refused to comment on the Meyiwa matter this week.

“Given that there is an ongoing investigation into this matter, we will not be providing any answers to your questions.

“The reason for this is that any response to your questions may be potentially damaging to the investigation now and possibly in the future,” said national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo.

This came as police opened a separate case of accessory to murder and defeating the ends of justice against Gininda, as well as all witnesses who were at the Khumalo house when Meyiwa was shot.

They already took cellphone data of all in the house at the time for analysis.

Meyiwa was gunned down in the presence of Khumalo, her mother, her sister Zandi, Zandi’s boyfriend Twala, Meyiwa’s friends Mthokozisi Thwala and Tumelo Madlala, and Khumalo’s 4-year-old son Christian.

At the time, all the witnesses had told the police, concerned neighbours and the media that the soccer star had been shot by three armed men who stormed the Khumalo home and demanded money and cellphones.

No one has been arrested or charged to date.

However, sworn affidavits from witnesses and neighbours, whose names have been withheld for safety reasons, have revealed that:

– A neighbour saw Meyiwa “shoving and pushing” his killer through the window before he was gunned down;

– Gladness told neighbours, who had rushed to her home to offer support, that Meyiwa was killed by three “black males” who demanded money and cellphones;

– She handed Meyiwa’s phone to one of her neighbours minutes after he was shot;

– Another neighbour cleaned the crime scene before the police arrived;

– A third neighbour who stays close to the Khumalos rushed out on hearing gunshots but saw no one emerging from the house;

– Concerned neighbours were made to run down the street towards a recreational park in pursuit of non-existent assailants;

– Khumalo rushed a bleeding Meyiwa to hospital in his BMW X6, where he was confirmed dead;

– None of the people who were in the house at the time of the incident phoned the police until one of the neighbours called 10111 and reported the matter;

Gladness falsely pointed out Zamokuhle Mbatha as Meyiwa’s killer, at the identification parade, without revealing to the police that the young man is a neighbour who used to wash Meyiwa’s and her daughter’s cars. Mbatha is suing police for more than R10 million for wrongful arrest.

Colonel Gininda withheld a crucial statement from Meyiwa’s brother-in-law, Mlungisi Hlophe, who is married to his sister Nokuthula, that Madlala had told him on the night of the murder that “Zandi was fighting with her boyfriend, and Senzo Meyiwa was trying to separate the two”. Hlophe also complained that he had given the same statement to the police for the fifth time in five years.

In their affidavits, neighbours and members of the police investigating team probing the Meyiwa murder case expressed frustration at what they regarded as foul play and a cover-up by the Khumalos and senior police officers.

A neighbour, who rushed to Gladness’s home after the shooting, said: “I asked her who shot her son-in-law and she said that three unknown black males shot her son-in-law; further, that one came inside the house and demanded money and cellphones and the two remained outside. The one who entered the house is the very same one who shot Senzo. We ran after them as she directed us, and looked around the park, and while we were running, other neighbours drove around in their cars also looking for the guys who shot Senzo. We could not see or find any suspicious people or activities.”

Another neighbour added: “After that gunshot, I looked at the kitchen door of Khumalo family. I did not see any person coming out of their kitchen door.”

Colonel Busisiwe Joyce Buthelezi and Warrant Officer Meshack Makhubo, who travelled to Durban as part of the investigations, raised concerns about the police cover-up.

“It is a shame that such a crucial statement (Hlophe’s) was obtained and never discussed with any prosecutor for evidence testing,” said Buthelezi in her affidavit.

Meyiwa’s relative and family spokesperson, Siyabonga Miya, confirmed that the family had received a message from a witness who claimed that the former Orlando Pirates goalie was killed by someone inside the house.

“What is really sad are the statements that these witnesses are making in public, claiming that there was a robbery and Senzo was killed by one of the robbers while they know the truth.

“I confronted this man four times and asked him why is he lying to the public and he couldn’t give me a straight answer. We told police about these but we, as a family, believe the top police brass are covering up this matter for certain individuals implicated,” Miya said.

The family, now fed up with a lack of progress in the case, have approached lobby group AfriForum to institute a private prosecution.

AfriForum’s Gerrie Nel said his group would take up the case and see it to its end.

This does not sit well with Cele, who believes the move is a plot “to embarrass the justice system”. Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said on Friday: “The Police Ministry respects the investigations into the murder case and is not prepared to discuss the merits of the case or do anything that may jeopardise the case.

“The minister is making a call, including to journalists, to respect this process. He does, however, want to add that he has been briefed on the case and is satisfied the SAPS is progressing well.”