The firm of private investigators roped in to help solve the murder riddle of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa pulled out of the investigation after only two days because “there were too many police officers involved”.
It has also emerged that the R10million State lawsuit by the man wrongfully arrested for the killing of the soccer star exactly three years ago will be heard in court only in 2019.
Meyiwa’s murder has cast a dark cloud over the capabilities of the police to solve complex cases.
Top private investigator Rick Crouch has classified Meyiwa’s murder as a cold case because police investigations have yielded no results despite the R250 000 reward offered for information and the task team that former national police commissioner Riah Phiyega set up.
Today marks the third anniversary of Meyiwa’s death. He was allegedly killed in a botched robbery at the home of his girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni. Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the case was still under investigation.
Magma Security, a Durban-based private investigations company brought in by the Meyiwas to assist police with the investigation, pulled out of the crime scene within 48 hours of arriving from KwaZulu-Natal.
“We pulled away within the first week. There were lots of police officers there and we did not want to contaminate the crime scene or interfere with their work.
“There were no issues between us and them and we felt that it would be healthy for the investigation if we moved away. My door is still open to go back,” said company director Shaheen Suleiman this week.
However, he was conflicted on whether the murder could be classified a cold case.
“It has been a long time since the incident. In cases like this, you need evidence and people to link that evidence to. It’s not yet over. You just need one person to talk for this case to be cracked wide open. The challenge is that nobody is talking,” Suleiman said.
But Crouch said the case was compromised from the onset when too many police investigators were deployed to gather evidence. He stood by his conviction of its being a cold case.
“In a murder case, you have to have some sort of a lead or evidence within 48 hours, and if you don’t, chances of solving that case are very low. It has now been three years and there are still no new leads and evidence, and the police are stumbling all over themselves. They just don’t know what to do with this case,” said Crouch.
He suggested that in a case such as Meyiwa’s, no more than two experienced investigators were needed.
“This case can be solved, but it won’t be in the manner that they are going about it. They have too many people stumbling around. The more people you have, the more chances of the case being messed up.
“They had too many people walking around the crime scene. They did not do what they were supposed to do from the beginning,” added Crouch.
Former sports minister Fikile Mbalula’s appointment as the new police minister in April revived the Meyiwas’ hopes of his killers being apprehended. Their expectations came from the fact that Mbalula admired their son. Mbalula then conceded that the case was high among his priorities.
“He (Mbalula) cannot betray Senzo’s family. His appointment was a blessing to us as we have battled to find closure. By the way, they say a new broom sweeps much better than the old one,” said Meyiwa’s father Sam at the time.
After months of no movement in the case, last month Sam cornered Mbalula during a function in Durban, pleading with him to find his son’s murderers.
This week, Mbalula maintained that the police had not given up.
“The Meyiwa matter is an investigation beyond our imagination, in the sense that police are doing everything in their power and are following leads, and I get regular reports. Anything we may say in public will compromise any possibility of catching the suspects.
“I can assure South Africans that it is not my desire that we have not arrested any suspect in this case. It cannot be described as a cold case. It is still alive,” said Mbalula.
The minister said he would meet Sam soon regarding the family’s welfare and Meyiwa’s financial benefits, which have not been paid out yet.
Meanwhile, Durban lawyer Mxolisi Ndwandwe said his client Zamokuhle Mbatha, 29, had disappeared for months after he served former minister of police Nkosinathi Nhleko and the National Prosecuting Authority with a combined R10 million lawsuit for his wrongful arrest in May 2015.
Mbatha was kept in custody for 13 days before charges against him were withdrawn.
Prior to Mbatha’s arrest, he used to work at a carwash where Meyiwa was one of his clients. Since the incident, his family had been living in fear of retaliation from the community. Mbatha eventually went into hiding.
“After we started with the summons and my clients got a trial date, Mbatha started having problems and receiving threats on his cellphone. He then just disappeared for months after we served the papers. I could not get hold of him and the whole process had to be paused.
“He only started making contact with me this month,” said Ndwandwe.
Mbatha refused to say where the threats were coming from.
“I was told that the court roll for next year at the high court in Johannesburg was full, so we settled for 2019.
“We served the Police Ministry and NPA the new notice of the court date yesterday (last week) so they still have time to respond to it,” said Ndwandwe. The Star