THE fiancée of murdered Pietermaritzburg policeman Bongani Lembethe broke down in tears on Friday while testifying at the trial of the “other woman” in the picture who admitted shooting Lembethe on March 3, 2014.
Lembethe’s killer, Thembilihle Ngcobo, will only be sentenced next year after the court has received various pre-sentencing reports including psychological reports which were not available on Friday.
Ngcobo pleaded guilty some time ago to shooting Lembethe with her police service pistol as a result of what she described as an “emotional storm”. She said the shooting followed an “on and off affair” while they were both serving as members of the SAPS Tactical Response Unit. In her plea to the court, which was accepted by the prosecution, Ngcobo said she was pregnant with Lembethe’s baby at the time of the incident, but alleged he had turned his back on her and did not want her to have any contact with his family.
On Friday, Lembethe’s fiancée, Sindisiwe Khanyile — a nurse, who had one child (now three years old) with Lembethe — said she only became aware of Ngcobo’s existence and her relationship with Lembethe during 2012. This was as a result of an “incident” when Ngcobo allegedly began subjecting her to harassing phone calls on her two cellphones. “It caught me by surprise that she had both my numbers,” she said.
“She was swearing at me and telling me to leave her man,” said Khanyile.
She had not known at the time who the woman was, she said. Khanyile said she had gone to see Lembethe about the calls on October 24, 2012 when she noticed a white car following her. She said the vehicle parked next to her and she saw a woman (Ngcobo) alight.
When Lembethe came out of his house he went straight towards the woman and the other car. She then saw the woman pull out a gun, point it at Lembethe and pursue him as he ran down the road. Khanyile said after this incident Lembethe had obtained a domestic violence interdict against Ngcobo. At times covering her face and wiping away tears from her cheeks, Khanyile testified that on the day of the shooting she was watching television when she heard gunshots ring out.
“After that there was a moment of silence. Then I heard Bongani saying: ‘Sindi I am dying. Sindi I am dying.’ Then it [the shots] went off again,” she said.
Khanyile said she had hidden herself in her bedroom until police arrived. Both her children were in the house at the time and have suffered trauma.
She told Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati and her assessor Fred Heuer that since the shooting her youngest child “closes her ears”. Khanyile also told the court that she is living in fear since the murder, especially because Lembethe’s car keys and keys to the gate at his home went missing after the shooting. “I am afraid to drive at night and I sometimes work late,” she added. Both children have been to see a psychologist.
Khanyile had also received counselling, but due to the financial hardship she now suffers due to Lembethe’s death she had to cancel her medical aid and could not complete her sessions. Asked by Ngcobo’s advocate Louis Barnard if she would accept financial assistance from Ngcobo if the court were to order it, Khanyile said she would not. “I do not want it,” she told him.
Barnard said Ngcobo’s instructions to him are that she did not make harassing phone calls to Khanyile at any time, but alleges that “a lady” had started to call her in 2012 and told her to “stay away from her man”.
He said Ngcobo admits she pointed a firearm at Lembethe on 24 October. This happened when she went to see him regarding her pregnancy and found him in the presence of another woman (Khanyile).
The case was postponed to 15 April, 2016 for the pre-sentencing reports. Ngcobo’s bail was extended until then.