A woman’s body lays in an open veld, mere meters away from Albert Wessels Drive, Newcastle—the main road into the industrial area of the town.
Lying face-up, the stab wounds on her body echo her final moments on earth—a tragic end to a human’s life and story. This horrific incident took place on 18 February 2018. A case which has now finally seen the light of justice gaze upon it.
Offering some insight is Lizzy Arumugam of Newcastle SAPS Corporate Communications, who explains the case began when Captain AS Ismail, the duty officer and Detective Service Commander of Newcastle Police Station, was called to attend to a murder scene.
Accompanied by Warrant Officer Mahabeer, Captain Ismail immediately responded. Arumugam explains, Captain Ismail was approached by the first respondents, Warrant Officer TT Sithole and Constable P Birbal, who then handed over the scene.
Warrant Officer MS Rose and Constable TN Mncube from Amajuba District Team reported to assist in the case.
Arumugam continues, “The scene was then combed for vital clues and empty beer bottles, twenty rand notes and blood was found near the pathway. It was discovered that the pathway leading to the Industrial area also leads to a tavern.”
Captain Ismail ensured all clues found on the scene were adequately marked and photographed, with W/O Mahabeer’s assistance. They also safeguarded the scene, until all evidence was photographed and collected.
The officers then visited the tavern, as to make enquiries concerning the identity of the deceased and possible suspects. Arumugam says, “Footage of the deceased was found, and the officers followed up on the information received via the footage.”
Two suspects were then traced and arrested by the team, who also found the murder weapon and deceased’s shoes in their house.
Captain Ismail then tasked his team to ensure all the exhibits on the scene were identified correctly, marked, and sealed in evidence bags.
The suspects were then handed over to the Detective members, Warrant Officer Mahabeer, Sergeant Emam and Captain Ismail.
The suspects were then interviewed and interrogated, both of whom admitted and confessed to the gruesome murder and rape of the deceased.
The Investigation Officer of the case, Sgt ZM Mthembu, ensured the docket was wholly prepared, and everything was in order. This led to the suspects being found guilty and sentenced.
The accused, Lekau Retsepile and Taolna Thabang were sentenced as follows:
Count 1 – Murder: The two men were sentenced to imprisonment for life.
Count 2 and 3 – Taken as one – Rape: Imprisonment for life.
Count 4 – Robbery with aggravating circumstances – 15 years imprisonment.
Lt. Colonel PR Claassen, the Detective Service Centre Commander, commended Captain Ismail and his team for their perseverance and dedication, insightful investigation in securing an excellent conviction.
Sadly the SAPS in South Africa often go unthanked as a result of only negatives surrounding the police making it into the media. For this reason, the Newcastillian – Online News tells your stories, so thousands of people can appreciate all you do! Keep up the excellent work and may more of your colleagues hear the call to justice, thereby riding our crime stained country of its ever-present curse, criminals at all levels.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer