The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has owned up to losing a docket containing details of how a 21-year-old woman was killed when an official in the office of then police minister Nathi Mthethwa collided with her vehicle.
Olerato Mongale was a student at CTI Education Group’s private higher education college in Pretoria.
For almost four years, her family has remained in the dark about what happened with the case.
“It’s like the driver ran over a dog. We just want to find closure. This is affecting my relationship with my wife. Every time I try to talk about it, we end up fighting,” Mongale’s father, Anthony Weels, told City Press.
Mongale died at the intersection of Wessels and Pretorius streets near the Union Buildings in Pretoria on the morning of September 24 2013.
According to the incident report in the possession of City Press, the suspect – Zamakuthula Vusumzi Zulu – was driving a white Polo 1.9 Tdi on Pretorius Street in a westerly direction. The deceased was crossing the intersection when Zulu’s Polo crashed into her vehicle.
The report also stated that the traffic lights at the intersection were not working. Mongale died at the scene.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said the original case docket was stolen from an Ipid investigator’s car. He said a new investigator was allocated to reconstruct the case docket, which is to be presented “to our office to ascertain what is still outstanding, before the end of next week”.
Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: “The docket was stolen after a break-in into the investigator’s car – that happened early last year. According to the investigator, the investigation was nearly complete when that happened. A duplicate docket was opened, however, and there were a few outstanding statements to be obtained this week.
“Thereafter, the case will be referred to the NPA for a decision on prosecution. The family should have been informed and we will investigate to establish if this was done. If not, we will find out why not. We will take appropriate action where necessary,” Dlamini said.
Weels said that, as part of the family’s efforts to have the matter finalised, they asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in September to intervene.
This was after Ipid informed the family that the matter was with the NPA for a decision on whether to prosecute.
Weels said this information forced the family to approach lawyers to apply to the high court to have the docket, or at least the autopsy report, released.
“It’s been almost four years and this matter has not been to court. We cannot proceed with a criminal or civil case against the state,” he said.
Weels’ brother, Nick Ntlathi, who was the first to arrive on the scene after responding to a call from a distressed Weels – who was in Limpopo at the time – still remembers seeing his niece’s lifeless body.
“My little niece’s twisted and sprawled body was lying on the hard surface of a tarred road, covered in a shiny, foil-like sheet.
“She suffered multiple internal and external injuries, plus her tiny body’s bones were crushed in many places.”
“I positively identified her to the cops and told my brother the sad news. I realised that the robot had not been working and [the intersection] should have been treated as a four-way stop by the driver of the vehicle [Polo]. He failed dismally as he is said to have been speeding.”
Ntlathi also said the family had since learnt that Zulu worked for the police, and that he was later sent for advanced driving lessons and counselling, but was not prosecuted.
Zulu, who is from Esigcalabeni in Nkandla, confirmed that he was the driver of the unmarked police vehicle that was involved in the collision.
He said he was still working as a clerk and messenger in the police department and was not suspended over the incident.
Zulu said he was also in the dark about what happened to the investigation after a statement was taken from him by police and after an internal probe found that he was driving at under 50km/h.
Zulu said he had thought of going to Mongale’s funeral to pay his respects, but a colleague had advised him against it.
“It hurt me a lot. An innocent soul was lost. I also have a girl child and I can imagine how the parents feel,” he said.
Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed that an investigation had begun in September and was ongoing. The office was keeping in touch with the family.
“While the investigation is still ongoing, the Public Protector is doing all that is humanly possible to conclude the matter expeditiously while ensuring that her probe is thorough,” Segalwe said.
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TRAGIC DEATH Olerato Mongale