A Pietermaritzburg doctor is alleged to have orchestrated the kidnapping and attempted murder of an employee, all because she could not find an exercise book.
Dr Bongiwe Constantia Nungu (36), who owns the Uminathi Medical Centre in Boshoff Street, was on Monday granted R10 000 bail by Pietermaritzburg magistrate Nitesh Binessarie.
The mother of three is charged with two counts of kidnapping and one of attempted murder.
Her employee, Silindile Bhengu, was allegedly kidnapped and tortured because she did not know where the notebook was. Its contents are unknown, said state prosecutor Edmund Szudrawski.
The notebook was eventually found on Patience Khumalo, who was also kidnapped for questioning about how it ended up in her possession.
Szudrawski opposed Nungu being granted bail and read out the affidavit of the investigating officer, Mfanuvele Gumede.
Gumede said that on October 20, Nungu questioned all her staff about the whereabouts of an exercise book.
“She appeared to be very agitated and angry that the book was missing.
“She went to the extreme of locking the practice, searching all the bags of her staff and confiscating their cellphones to check the call history.”
The book could not be found.
Gumede added that the doctor called Bhengu into a side room where she saw three men. One continued to ask her about the book and she continued to explain that she had no knowledge of it.
He said the doctor then instructed the men to take Bhengu with them. She was placed into a silver seven-seater vehicle.
There were two men already inside the vehicle, armed with what appeared to be rifles, he said.
Bhengu was driven around with the five men until they stopped in a secluded area.
She was questioned again.
Gumede said the men threatened her with violence and harm.
“A plastic packet was placed over her head in order to suffocate her. At the same time her arms were held down and she was instructed to tap her foot when she was ready to talk.
“She tapped her foot and again denied knowledge of the book, which caused them to suffocate her again.
“This happened two more times with the last time lasting for longer.”
One of the men covered her mouth and nose. Another then said the book had been found at the practice.
Bhengu was driven back to the practice where they all were informed that the book had been recovered from Khumalo.
Bhengu was left at the practice and the men took Khumalo with them.
Gumede said Khumalo contacted her mother, who immediately drove in.
In the meantime, she was driven around by the men and questioned about how she got the book.
He said she was also warned not to open a case, as the men would kill her.
While in the reception area, said Gumede, the doctor shouted at Khumalo that her actions had almost led to Bhengu being killed.
Gumede added that the doctor resorted to “extreme and life-threatening actions” towards her employees.
Magistrate Binessarie said the state relies on circumstantial evidence.
There is nothing that directly links Nungu to the crimes. The actual kidnappers have not yet been arrested.
He also said that Nungu employs 10 people whose livelihood depends on the medical practice.
Binessarie added there are also no facts that warrant the belief that the interference of witnesses is unavoidable.
Nungu will return to court on December 15.