Family comforted cop’s killer

2012-06-16 00:00

FAMILY of a murdered policewoman comforted her weeping boyfriend for days after she disappeared. He later turned out to be her killer, confessing before he hanged himself.

At an emotional memorial service at Alexandra police station yesterday, the family of Constable Bongiwe Precious Zuma (29) spoke of the hell they went through waiting for news of her while she was missing.

Zuma, who was one of four female members of the Pietermaritzburg tactical response team, disappeared on May 22.

Her burnt body was found two weeks later in bushes in the Baynesfield area outside Pietermaritzburg.

Her boyfriend, Ndumiso Mabaso, later confessed to her murder and then hanged himself.

A distraught Bongiwe Shabalala, her aunt, said she was grateful for the work done by police to recover the body.

“My sister [Lynett] went through hell searching for Bongiwe.

The most painful thing was that her sister cared for Mabaso for three days during the search.

“Mabaso was always drunk during those three days and my sister would organise him food. He was crying like all of us and he would say to Bongiwe’s daughter over and over, ‘I am sorry about your mother’.”

She said the family had taken pity on Mabaso and let him stay with them, after he told them he was afraid of the police, and feared they might kill him.

Shabalala said they did not understand at the time why Mabaso was saying all this.

Mabaso (31), a paramedic, confessed to killing Zuma earlier this month and was arrested.

He was found dead in the New Hanover police cells on June 3, after he hanged himself with a blanket.

Speaking at the memorial service, her commander, Sergeant Buzwe Sokhela, said: “Murder is murder, but the way he killed her was so brutal.” He described her as a brave woman who led from the front.

He said when the police felt they needed backup on a job, Zuma would say: “We can do this without any backup”.

Shabalala said her sister raised Bongiwe on her meagre domestic worker’s wages.

“Even the driver’s licence that led to Bongiwe being employed as a policewoman was as a result of her mother’s hard-earned cash.”

Friend Queen Nkabini said she and Zuma were more like sisters.

“I met Bongiwe in 2005 after she had just finished her police training.

“We became close as I was still grieving the loss of another friend of mine who was also brutally killed by her boyfriend, who had shot her.”

Zuma helped her through that tough period and now she said she will help raise Zuma’s daughter.

Pietermaritizburg TRT Unit commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Mmeli Ngubane, said her colleagues didn’t sleep until she was found.

“We were crying … and the suspect was crying … but at that time we did not know that he was the one who had brutally murdered [her].

“As it is we only have three female officers … and losing a female is a huge loss because it is difficult for women to go through the training.”

Zuma is survived by her father, Mkhokhiswa Shezi, her mother, Lynett Zuma, brothers, sisters and her daughter Songakonke (six).

Her funeral will be held at the Woodlands Community Hall at 10 am tomorrow.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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