Second apartheid era security branch officer charged in murder of 3 Cosas members granted bail

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Ephraim Mfalapitsa in previous appearance court for three counts of murder. (Supplied, NPA)
Ephraim Mfalapitsa in previous appearance court for three counts of murder. (Supplied, NPA)
  • Former Security Branch officer Christian Siebert Rorich has been charged in the murders of three Congress of South African Students (Cosas) members who were killed in an explosion at a mine in 1982.
  • At the time of the murders, Rorich was an explosives expert and allegedly planted explosives in a pump house at the mine.
  • In August, askari Tlhomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa appeared in court in relation to the matter.

A former Security Branch officer charged in relation to the 1982 murders of three Congress of South African Students (Cosas) members has been released on R5 000 bail. 

Christian Siebert Rorich, who was an explosive's expert during the apartheid era, appeared in the Kagiso Magistrate's Court on Tuesday in connection with the deaths of Eustice "Bimbo" Madikela, Ntshingo Mataboge (Matubane) and Fanyana Nhlapo who were killed by an explosion inside a pump house at a Krugersdorp mine on 15 February 1982. 

"The accused was a police officer and an expert in handling explosives. He allegedly infested the pump house with explosives at the instruction of Brigadier Jan Carel Coetzee, then commander at Vlakplaas," said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane.

READ | Former Vlakplaas cop and ANC defector in court for the death of 3 Cosas members

According to the State, the trio, along with Zandisile Musi, who survived the incident, were lured into the mine by former askari Tlhomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa under the pretences of military training. 

"Once inside, the explosives would be detonated, but only after Mfalapitsa left the pumphouse under the pretext of fetching more training equipment or hand grenades from the taxi they boarded to the pump house. Their deaths were then portrayed as a military training that went wrong, resulting in the trainees blowing themselves up," Mjonondwane said. 

In August, Mfalapitsa made his first appearance for the murders, in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

He was a member of uMkhonto We Sizwe and defected by joining the Security Branch police and worked against his former ANC comrades.

He is alleged to have made contact with Musi, whose two elder brothers he had a close relationship with from serving with them in the MK while in exile. 

ALSO READ | Families of Cosas 4 apply for bodies to be exhumed, NPA says its premature

Mfalapitsa's matter was postponed to 25 October, while Rorich was expected to be indicted to the high court on 26 October.  

"The case against Mfalapitsa was postponed to 25 October 2021 for trial, which may now be delayed as the State intends to amend the indictment to have both Mfalapitsa and the officer (Rorich) tried in one trial," Mjonondwane said.   

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