Daily Dispatch

Families of slain Ngcobo policemen say Bheki Cele has failed them

Promises made at memorial service ‘have not been kept’

- SOYISO MALITI soyisom@dispatch.co.za

The families of the police officers who were slain in the Ngcobo massacre say a promise made publicly by police minister Bheki Cele to help them has proved halfhearte­d.

The officers’ families are struggling financiall­y and said some of their children had even turned to drugs, despite Cele’s grand undertakin­g at a memorial service for the men that the SAPS would look after them.

Five officers — constables Zuko Ntsheku, Nkosiphend­ule Pongco, Kuhle Mateta, Sibongisen­i Sandlana and WO Zuko Mbini — were killed allegedly by the members of the Mancoba Seven Angels cult.

They died in a hail of bullets when suspects stormed the Ngcobo police station in February 2018.

Andani Monco, 32, Kwanele Ndlwana, 24, Siphosomzi Tshefu, 26, Siphesihle Tatsi, 22, and Phumzile Mhlatywa, 48, are being tried in the Mthatha high court.

As the families wait for the wheels of justice to turn, their anger has been directed at Cele and the SAPS.

Bulelani Mateta, the father of slain Kuhle Mateta, said the SAPS had dismally failed to uphold the promises that had been made.

He said a fund for his late son had taken care of the funeral costs and a R250,000 death benefit was being held by the government to be released when his son’s child was of age.

Until then, the families were promised they would receive groceries every month.

But Mateta said they had not received a single payment for groceries, contrary to what Cele promised at the memorial service.

Mateta said he was struggling to take care of his grandson.

“Bheki Cele also promised to sort out school fees for the rest of the children’s lives.

“To this day, none of that has happened,” Mateta told the Dispatch.

Cele could not be reached for comment, but his spokespers­on, Lirandzu Themba, said if the school fees were not being paid it was due to an administra­tive issue, in which case the Dispatch would have to contact the provincial police.

She also referred the Dispatch to the provincial police regarding the groceries payment.

However, provincial police communicat­ions in turn referred the Dispatch to Cele’s office for comment.

Mateta said: “When their [five policemen] names was put on the wall of fame in Pretoria and when Cele came down to Ngcobo, we told them that the monies for groceries had not been paid.

“We cornered him in Ngcobo and reminded him that his promises had not been fulfilled.

“He referred us to his juniors and told them to fix this.”

Viwe Ngubo, mother of Sandlana’s sevenyear-old son Ayongezwa, said while the SAPS had paid for the boy’s school fees, they had delivered groceries only twice a year, in January and June.

Ngubo said she was claiming funds from the labour department, but the process had been delayed due to the lockdown and a DNA test she was told she needed to take.

Mbini’s wife, Thembakazi, said she had not received any groceries, and though the SAPS had initially paid for her two children’s school fees, the payment for one of her sons had stopped as he had started failing at school and had become addicted to drugs.

Mbini said: “I felt the police failed me with my other son.

“They could have taken him to rehab. “Ever since his father’s death he has never been the same.

“He has repeated the same grade three times and this year he dropped out in January.

“He’s got a rage inside him.”

She said her son had resorted to theft and destroying their property to pay for drugs.

“This is painful and stressful for me. I cannot sleep because of it.”

 ?? Picture: GALLO IMAGES / PHILL MAGAKOE ?? PROMISES: Police minister Bheki Cele said he would pay for the families’ groceries and school fees, says the father of one of the slain policemen.
Picture: GALLO IMAGES / PHILL MAGAKOE PROMISES: Police minister Bheki Cele said he would pay for the families’ groceries and school fees, says the father of one of the slain policemen.

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