As the high court sitting in Palm Ridge on the East Rand was on Monday expected to start hearing the defence of former police constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu, an alleged serial killer accused of murdering her family members in return for insurance payouts, TimesLIVE brings you exclusive footage, presented in court, which has been crucial in the state’s case against her.
The footage was allegedly captured by an undercover police officer who had hidden the recording device in the car in which he, Ndlovu and another recruited “hitman” were travelling.
The trio was headed to Bushbuckridge, where Ndlovu was due to show them her sister’s house. She allegedly wanted the two men to burn her sister, Joyce, and her five children alive in the house.
In her own words, Ndlovu said they should “leave no witnesses behind”.
In the recording, Ndlovu explained how she had earlier checked herself into hospital to create an alibi and then secured a day pass to leave the premises.
En route to Bushbuckridge, they stopped at a garage in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where she purchased two litres of petrol and handed it to the undercover officer. The petrol was meant to be used to ignite the flames that would wipe out six of her family members.
It was also in this footage, taken during their five-hour drive from Johannesburg to Bushbuckridge, that she allegedly provided a motive for wanting her sister dead.
“You know I don’t have money,” Ndlovu is heard saying, addressing the alleged hitman, Njabulo Kunene. “You know I’m doing this so I can get a bit of money. You’ve seen that my car is on the brink of being repossessed. I don’t have money,” she said.
Ndlovu seemed unshaken and nonchalant about knowing her sister’s children would also die in the fire.
When asked by the undercover officers whether the policies she had also covered the children, she replied: “It won’t pay out for the children, only for [the mother]. But they cannot be left behind since they will be there too. You know that sparing them will mean leaving behind witnesses. So when a house burns down, everyone burns with it.”
She had allegedly hoped the fire would be ruled as an accident and she would cash in on a large sum of money from the insurance policies.
Ndlovu was nabbed moments after she had pointed out her sister’s house to the “hitmen” and boarded a taxi back to Johannesburg, where she was rushing to return to the Carstenhof Hospital in Midrand to cement her alibi.
It was through her work as a police officer at the Thembisa South police station that Ndlovu allegedly met two “hitmen” she hired to kill her mother, sisters, nieces and nephews.
The men, Kunene and Lakhiwe Mkhize, were crucial to the state’s case as Ndlovu’s trial played out in the court.
The court heard Kunene had been arrested several years ago by Ndlovu on a gun possession charge. He was later cleared of the charge. He alleged that in 2017 he was approached by Ndlovu, who said she wanted him to kill his sister, Gladys.
Gladys lived in Pholosong in Thembisa. Shocked by this request, Kunene told his friend Mkhize about this. Mkhize was present when Ndlovu allegedly met Kunene to follow up on her request and he was roped into the murder plot. Together, they drove to Gladys’s house.
They claimed they were promised R15,000 for Gladys’s life. They were given R800 as a down payment for petrol. However, they never carried out the plot and avoided Ndlovu.
In February 2018, Ndlovu approached Mkhize and allegedly said this time she had another target, her elderly mother, Maria Mushwana, who lived in Thulamahashe, Buckbuckridge. Mkhize was allegedly paid R2,600 for the job and taken to Bushbuckridge, where he was shown the house.
Mkhize, however, failed to execute the killing.
He said when he arrived at the elderly woman’s house, he was moved by how vulnerable and fragile she was. Instead, he asked for a glass of water and left, taking off with Ndlovu’s money.
The 80-year-old Mushwana is expected to be among those who will testify in Ndlovu’s defence.
A month after the alleged botched hit on her mother, Ndlovu is alleged to have returned to her initial “hitman”, Kunene, and told him she wanted her sister Joyce and her five children — the youngest was five months old — killed. She allegedly wanted them burnt alive in their Bushbuckridge home.
Ndlovu had insinuated that none of the six should survive.
Kunene agreed, but was disturbed by Ndlovu’s heinous plot, so he approached the police and shared the information.
Police set up a sting operation and sent Kunene back to Ndlovu with an undercover police officer, who posed as Kunene’s accomplice.
Last week, the state closed its case. Besides leading evidence from the alleged hitmen, the prosecution led testimony from analysts at insurance companies Ndlovu is alleged to have defrauded, cellphone tech experts who placed Ndlovu around some of the crime scenes and her family members, some of whom survived the alleged killing spree.
Now Ndlovu is expected to start presenting her defence. Her brother, Director, is expected to testify for her.
The former police officer has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder or conspiring to commit murder, defeating the ends of justice and fraud.
During her bail application, she indicated she accepted only the charges relating to the conspiracy to commit the murder of Joyce and her five children. She said, however, she would explain this during her trial.