Murder solved after 17 years

2008-06-27 00:00

AN aggrieved family member has helped police to resurrect and solve a murder case 17 years after it was committed.

A Willowfountain man, Zamo Ngubane, uncovered the truth about the mysterious disappearance of his aunt, Duduzile Goodness Ngubane, from her home in Ladysmith in 1991.

Ngubane said that after years of persistent inquiries, it has been revealed that his aunt was killed by her immediate family, including her husband.

On November 26, 1991, police found the body of a woman in the bush near Willowfountain. Her throat had been slit, she had head injuries and several stab wounds.

Inspector Joey Jeevan said investigations at the time proved fruitless and the woman, still unidentified, was given a pauper’s burial.

It took 17 years and the diligence of Ngubane to identify the long-buried body. In May this year, he was able to identify the woman — from photographs kept in the SAPS docket — as his aunt, Duduzile Goodness Ngubane (35).

“I was 15 when my aunt disappeared and the truth about her disappearance has bothered me ever since.

“During the December holidays in 1991, I went to my aunt’s place in Ladysmith, but she was not there and … the domestic employee told me she had gone to a doctor in Durban.”

Several months later, Ngubane became more suspicious when the employee became pregnant with his uncle’s child. The two got married soon after.

Years after his aunt’s disappearance, Ngubane’s mother made a confession to her son and warned him never to talk or ask any more questions about the matter.

“She said one of the people present during the day of the murder told my mother that he was moving to Hammarsdale for fear of his life after he had witnessed the murder.”

Ngubane said that according to his mother, his uncle Bethwell, five other family members and a hitman were involved in the murder.

A few years later, after his mother died, Ngubane told the story to the SAPS Serious and Violent Crimes Unit.

The investigation was revived and police traced an 82-year-old family member in Hammarsdale, who gave details of the murder and turned state witness.

Jeevan said Duduzile did not have any children. It is alleged that her husband and the domestic employee had an affair and the woman fell pregnant. Duduzile’s husband told her that he would take the employee as a second wife, but Duduzile refused.

Bethwell then approached his family in Willowfountain, and at a family meeting it was decided to hire a hitman to kill his wife.

Back in Ladysmith, he told his wife he was taking her to a traditional healer who would help her to conceive.

On November 25, 1991, five family members pretended to be accompanying the couple to the healer. In the bushes, a contract killer murdered her and her body was abandoned.

All family members returned to their homes and maintained their silence. Some took the secret to the grave, but one will face the consequences.

According to Jeevan, a 62-year-old female relative who was at the initial meeting on the day of the murder is the only surviving suspect.

“The alleged contract killer died in 2002 and Bethwell Ngubane died of natural causes in 2005.” However, according to Ngubane, four people who were involved in the murder are still living.

On completion of the investigation the docket will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision on whether to prosecute.

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