Did Sanele slit his own throat?

2013-07-02 00:00

WAS it suicide or was it murder? This is the question that needs to be answered to resolve the gruesome death of Sanele Ngcobo, one of the participants in the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness exercise.

Sanele was found unconscious with his throat cut outside the Harry Gwala Stadium on December 28, after he had finished his mandatory 4km run, part of his fitness test.

Yesterday his aunt, Thembi Ngcobo, who raised him after his mother died in 2000, was called to give evidence. “Sanele was like my biological child because I raised him and paid for his school and university fees,” Ngcobo, from Sobantu, said.

She described him as a respectful child who had a positive outlook on life. Ngcobo said she did not believe he committed suicide.

She said Sanele had been doing his final year of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Zululand last year and was very excited with his then three-month-old son Siyabulela.

“He was also looking forward to becoming a traffic officer because he had a passion for it,” she said.

Ngcobo, a pensioner, said she did not even look at reports suggesting Sanele had slit his own throat because she believed he was never suicidal.

During cross-examination, senior counsel Ravi Padayachee for the Transport Department asked Ngcobo if he was under any pressure to repay her for paying for his education.

He also asked if Sanele’s girlfriend was a reliable person.

She said she taught Sanele to help at home and be responsible enough to look after his new family, in the same way he had been raised.

“I was not looking for him to pay me back for educating him,” said ­Ngcobo.

“Do you think Sanele was so disappointed after failing to complete the fitness test in time that he would have wanted to commit suicide?” asked ­Padayachee.

However, Ngcobo insisted she did not ­believe Sanele could have committed suicide because he had been a happy child who never carried any weapons.

Padayachee told the commission that there was a measure of substance to the idea that Sanele had committed suicide. He said evidence would show that Sanele died due to blood loss from a 13 cm wound.

“He had died in the theatre while he was being operated on at Grey’s Hospital,” he said.

He said the wound was so deep that he was breathing through it.

Padayachee said the hospital used the gaping wound to insert a 7.5 ETT pipe into his trachea.

“The traffic officer who accompanied paramedics to the hospital told them he saw the patient cutting his own throat with a bottle [after being] disappointed with failing to finish the fitness test in time,” he said.

Padayachee said a Transport Department human resources staff member said she heard people screaming outside the stadium.

This supports the allegation that he had not finished in time and had therefore broken a bottle and slit his throat.

However, Advocate Nomusa Khuzwayo of the Legal Board SA told the inquiry that Sanele had two wounds.

Khuzwayo asked Ngcobo if it was possible that he had been killed.

Ngcobo said it was possible.

“If it is possible, then what do you think of the security at the stadium?” asked Khuzwayo.

Ngcobo said security at the venue was not good.

Another witness, Nkosinathi Nzimande, was called to testify because he had been running with Sanele during the fitness test.

“I shook hands with Sanele after finishing the race in time,” he said.

He said he never heard any commotion or screaming from people who may have witnessed a person who had cut his throat.

Nzimande will continue giving evidence today.

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