Wives’ fight over dead cop’s body resolved

2008-10-10 00:00

Bigamy committed by a Pietermaritzburg policeman, Thulani Lawrence Ngcobo, who took a second “wife” 13 years ago and allegedly kept his first marriage a secret from her, led to a bitter dispute this week over which of the two women was entitled to take charge of his funeral and last rites ceremony.

The dispute was resolved by agreement in the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday after Judge Piet Koen urged the parties to reach a compromise that would not involve a “victor” or “loser”.

Accordingly, Ngcobo’s second “wife”, Rita Ndlovu, was authorised to have his body released to her by the funeral parlour and transported to her home in Howick overnight.

The body is to be collected at 10 am today and taken to his parental home in Ashdown in compliance with the wishes of his first wife, Zandile Ngcobo, whom he married in July 1989.

Zandile Ngcobo will conduct his funeral service and carry out his last rites ceremony and burial.

Before granting the order, Koen hailed the parties on their “maturity” in agreeing on a compromise.

He told the courtroom, packed with members of the late policeman’s families and their friends, that they should spend the next couple of days saying their farewells, remembering the good times they had with Ngcobo and honouring his memory.

“I ask you to approach it in that spirit and to respect each other’s feelings of grief.

“There will always be certain factors that will inextricably link you. He was a husband, a father, in both households. Some of you might feel a bit let down in some respects … Even though you might feel some disappointment, the most important consideration is that you have lost a loved one,” the judge said.

He referred in particular in that regard to Rita Ndlovu (whom Ngcobo “married” in 1995) and who alleged in her affidavit that she was unaware that he was still married throughout their relationship.

In her affidavit, Zandile Ngcobo (a teacher from Imbali) said that in 1994, she and her late husband experienced marital problems and he issued summons for divorce. However, he withdrew the divorce application. In 1997, she found out that he had married Ndlovu in May 1995. “I could not believe this, as I was still married to the deceased,” she said.

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