By Mkhululi Ncube
Lisani Nleya the man in police custody for the horrific killing of his parents in Empandeni, Mangwe District in Matabeleland South Province, is said to have told close contacts in South Africa that he was going to kill them and bragged about how he did it afterwards.
A week-long investigation by Chronicle unravelled another side of the 45-year-old and his life in South Africa where he was a security guard.
Rippling with muscles, the former Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) soldier looks extremely fit for his age and sources in the neighbouring country said his “confidence” inspired fear in them.
Nleya was arrested by police on January 10 in Emakhandeni suburb in Bulawayo after he sneaked back into the country to allegedly consult a traditional healer.
He has since appeared in court for the September 1, 2020, double killing and was remanded in custody to February 14 by Plumtree magistrate Ms. Vivian Ndlovu.
Colleagues in the neighbouring country said he always had a strange fixation with being bewitched and had on several occasions threatened to kill workmates for allegedly bewitching him.
Those who knew him described him as an extremely intelligent man who loved to read but was cursed with a short temper.
A source who knew Nleya since 2018 said the murder accused was a security guard at the affluent Observatory suburb in the east of Johannesburg, which is a “predominantly white neighbourhood”.
He did guard duty on Eckstein Street.
“I know Lisani Nleya a lot. He was our guard where I stay. I communicated with him almost on a daily basis”.
“Even after the murder case, he told most people who used to while up time at the guard room what he did. This side, what he did was not a secret because he is the one who told people all the details. When we saw the stories that you wrote, it just confirmed what was an open secret for us,” said the source, who preferred anonymity.
“His job was guarding the streets where I stay. He did night shifts most of the time. During the day on some occasions, he would go to Yeoville to sell safety shoes but I do not know where he got them. He would also do gardening jobs.”
The source said Lisani seemed to struggle with his son as he would just let him play in the streets. On some occasions, Lisani would reportedly sleep with his son at his work place.
“Most of the times when he was on duty, he would spend his time reading novels and magazines. There was always a pile of reading stuff at the guard room. He was reserved and would only chat to those who went to the guard room to kill time with the guards.
Getting to know him was not an easy thing, he was a scary character who loved camouflage attire. But once you knew him, he would open up and shock you with his intelligence,” said the source.
Another source said Lisani was courteous but short-tempered.
“Whenever he spoke, he spoke sense. He was a complex character. It was therefore disturbing when he started talking about mercilessly killing his parents.
Lisani was always on the move and sometimes he would be homeless and would stay at the guard room. This sometimes happened when he was staying with his child. He would allege that ‘the landlord is bewitching me,’ hence he was always shifting. He just loved ukubona abantu abamthakathayo,” said the source.
As part of his extreme fitness routine, Lisani allegedly preferred cycling everywhere he went, instead of taking kombis, a story also collaborated by the family which took care of him in Bulawayo’s Emakhandeni suburb.
“His mode of transport this side was a green mountain bike. We last saw the bicycle after he went to Zimbabwe to commit the heinous crime. When he returned to South Africa, he did not have it and had not replaced it. He told someone that he sold it to raise money to come back to South Africa,” said the source.
Tenants along the street where he kept guard said he would do calisthenic exercises non-stop and loved to show off his thickly muscled upper body.
The source said Lisani did not inform his employers when he left South Africa for Zimbabwe, as they were looking for him after his arrest.
In a disturbing audio in Chronicle’s possesion, Lisani threatens to kill one of his former landlords in South Africa for “bewitching me”.
“ULisani ubengakhulumi lomuntu (he was a quiet person). He was paying his rent very well. The only problem is that he was threatening to kill me accusing me of witchcraft. He always said he saw me in his dreams and warned that if I continued doing it, he would kill me,” said the landlord.
The landlord said Lisani even warned young boys in the house to never trust their parents.
“Ubengela mpahla (he had no property). He only had many black refuse plastic bags and I don’t know what was in them. When he left, he spent a lot of time gathering them up. There were so many of them,” said the landlord, who also declined to be named ,
“When he was about to surrender the keys, he said ‘you are chasing me from your premises because you know what you are always doing at night’. He said I was bewitching him and threatened to kill me like he killed his parents. He said if I kept on doing it, he would ambush me on my way to work and blow up my property with a bomb,” she said.
Lisani, according to the ZNA, deserted the army in 2003 after serving in the DRC war and was administratively discharged in 2004. The Chronicle