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‘If I wanted Zanele dead, I would have left her to die,’ says alleged killer cop Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu

Former police constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu gives testimony during her appearance in the high court sitting at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court.
Former police constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu gives testimony during her appearance in the high court sitting at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

“If I wanted her dead, I would have left her in the house to die and not rushed her to the hospital.”

This was the testimony from former police officer Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu about events surrounding the death of her niece Zanele Motha. She was testifying in the Johannesburg high court on Monday.

Motha died after sustaining serious injuries while she was visiting Ndlovu at her home in Clayville.

There has been confusion about how and where Motha sustained her injuries. In the indictment, it is stated Motha sustained injuries after allegedly being struck by a car in Kempton Park.

Zanele Motha, Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu's niece, died in June 2016. Ndlovu pocketed almost R120,000 following Motha's death.
Zanele Motha, Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu's niece, died in June 2016. Ndlovu pocketed almost R120,000 following Motha's death.
Image: Supplied

However, when Ndlovu testified in court last week, she said she had received a call from her brother to rush to Thembisa Hospital where she found Ndlovu seated on a wheelchair and  already discharged.

She said her niece, a young mother of three, never explained how she had sustained the injuries.

Ndlovu took Motha back to her home in Clayville and she said she took care of her for a day. Motha complained of severe pain the next evening so Ndlovu said she rushed her to the Arwyp Hospital in Kempton Park, where she was declared dead on arrival.

The state touched on a crucial point. Prosecutor Riana Williams asked Ndlovu why she had not returned Ndlovu to Thembisa Hospital where she was treated before or to Zamokuhle Hospital, a private hospital close to her home, or even the Life Carstenhof Hospital, also closer, instead of driving to Kempton Park.

Ndlovu said they were not satisfied with the service received at Thembisa Hospital as despite them treating Motha, she was still in pain. Zamokuhle was under renovation and she was not sure whether they would be serviced. She thought it was too dangerous to drive through Thembisa to get to Carstenhof.

Williams asked: “Did you know it was a matter of life and death?”

Ndlovu responded: “It did not occur to me. I did not think of that. I never thought she would die. All that was in my mind was to get her to the hospital.”

She said she was not sure how long it had taken her to reach Arwyp Hospital but assumed it had been about 30 minutes.

“The fact that you did not take Zanele to the closest hospital shows you were not interested in her getting better,” Williams put to Ndlovu.

“If that was the case, I would have left her in the house to die. I would not have bothered to take her to the hospital,” said Ndlovu.

When her niece died, Ndlovu cashed in on almost R120,000 from three policies she had opened in Motha's name. She assisted the family with about R60,000 and pocketed the rest. She said she had kept this money in her account, hoping to perhaps use it for the unveiling of Motha’s gravestone.

Ndlovu said she did not think of giving it to Motha’s boyfriend, who had been left to take care of their three young children, because the boyfriend had told her he wanted nothing to do with her.

TimesLIVE spoke to Motha’s boyfriend last week. Jabulani Nhlapo told TimesLIVE of the suspicions he had had surrounding Motha’s death, saying he had questioned why Ndlovu had suddenly wanted to insure her. He said they did not have a close relationship.

During cross-examination on Monday, Williams took Ndlovu through the last few moments when Motha was reportedly seen alive.

“When you found her on the floor coughing, was she still speaking?” Williams asked.

“Yes. I asked her what was going on,” said Ndlovu. “She said she was in pain. She never said anything more. I needed to take her to the hospital so I never asked anything more.”

“How did she get into the car?” Williams asked.

“She was shorter than me. I asked her to put her arms around me. I led her to the car, put her in the back seat, closed the door and drove her to hospital,” Ndlovu said.

Along the route, Ndlovu said, Motha was crying from pain.

According to the state, at 1.08am — six minutes after she had arrived at Arwyp Hospital — Motha was declared dead upon arrival.

Another integral part of the state’s case is that when Motha was treated at Thembisa Hospital before her death, the examining doctor said she had only had abrasions to her face. But when Motha died, her injuries were more severe. A postmortem revealed she had fractured ribs and her liver was damaged.

The doctor, Ipeleng Nku, testified during the trial. Nku told the court the only probable explanation was that Motha had sustained these injuries after she was discharged as there was no way she would have discharged Motha under such conditions. She said Motha would have been in excruciating pain — too much to have walked out of the hospital.

Williams pressed Ndlovu to explain how Motha could have possibly sustained these injuries.

“I don’t know what happened and I was not always guarding her or looking after her. At times I went to the shop or elsewhere. I am not sure what happened. She could have attempted to go to the bathroom on her own, she could have tried to bath herself and fell. I don’t know but she never reported or told me anything. Perhaps the hospital missed something when they treated her,” Ndlovu said.

The former police officer is accused of killing six people, five of whom are her relatives and the other her lover, Maurice Mabasa. She is also accused of ordering hits on at least seven other relatives, including her own mother, sister and nieces and nephews, the youngest of whom who was five months old at the time.

Ndlovu was nabbed when a hitman she had allegedly recruited to torch her sister’s house in Bushbuckridge reported to the matter to the police. A sting operation was set up that saw an undercover police officer pose as friend of the hitman who would assist in carrying out the plot.

It was during this operation that Ndlovu was caught on camera telling the would-be hitmen to burn her sister and her sibling's five children alive in the house, adding that she could cash in on insurance policies she had opened in her sister’s name.

Regarding the children, Ndlovu was heard saying they should be killed so as to not leave witnesses behind.

The case continues.