The dead who are still waiting for justice

Date: 14 Jun 2007
Police are no closer to solving old murders, writes Lee Rondganger A year ago, a Cape Town magazine editor lost her way in Joburg and paid with her life. Four bullets pierced the driver's window of Megan Herselman's car exactly a year ago, and her killer or killers have yet to be caught. This week also marks the second anniversary of the gruesome murders of Soweto sisters Lindiwe and Nelisiwe Mbhele. Their killers, too, are still on the loose. These are just two of several high-profile unsolved murders that have rocked Joburg. And, according to a private investigator, the chances of solving a murder a year after it occurred is highly unlikely. Investigator Christian Botha, author of The Shallow Grave and other True Crime Stories, said the most crucial time for any investigation was the first 48 hours. "A year later and it is very unlikely they will get anywhere. "The most important thing now for investigators to have is the ballistics reports to link the gun to any other crimes, the fingerprints on the scene and the interviews of witnesses. "It is with this information that they might be able to solve the cases," Botha said. Herselman, 4x4 trail editor of Drive Out magazine, was killed at the Rivonia off-ramp on the N1 in Sandton on June 13 last year. Nothing was taken from her. Her sister, Naomi Herselman, said the family had not yet been able to close the horrible chapter in their lives. "A lot of people ask me if I have forgiven the people who did this, but it is hard to forgive someone who has no face and no name. "We want some sort of closure. The fact that you never get closure is hard, and the fact that you never really know what happened is just as hard," she said. "At least if it was an accident, you would know what happened, but in this case we just don't know." Herselman's murder at the Rivonia off-ramp wasn't an isolated incident. About a month after she was gunned down, Clay Pierre- Louis, a Seychelles citizen, was murdered for his cellphone just metres from where Herselman was killed. His murder, too, remains unsolved. Another slaying that hasn't been cracked is that of prominent businessman Anver Mohammed, who was killed at a traffic light at the Glenhove off-ramp on the M1 in northern Joburg seven days after Herselman's murder. Farouk Mohammed, Anver's brother, said the family had not heard from the investigators for months. "What can we do? The man is dead, we have lost a loved one and we just need to carry on. We are trying to cope but it is not easy. "We are not giving up (on the police investigation) and will see what happens," he said. These aren't the only unsolved murders. Others that received widespread media coverage include: n The January 2006 deaths of laundry workers Jocelyn Lesito, Victoria Ndweni and Constance Moeletsi. Their bodies were found at the Vereeniging drycleaning business where they worked. The owners of the business - Charl Colyn, daughter Isabel and son-in-law Ruan Swanepoel, as well as family friend Jacques Smit and gardeners Samuel Mzizi and Jacob Dlamini, were arrested. However, the charges were thrown out of court, with the magistrate slamming the police's case as "amateurish". n The April 2006 slaying of acclaimed TV director Ken Kirsten, gunned down outside his Northcliff, Joburg, townhouse while walking his dog. Two men were arrested but charges were later withdrawn. n The June 1 2005 discovery of the bodies of off-duty police officer Inspector Makachane Samuel Matebula (54) and 18-year-old Michael Monovela in open veld in Germiston. Both had been shot in the head. Police spokesperson Sergeant Sanku Tsunke said that even though charges against some of the suspects in these cases had been withdrawn, investigations were ongoing. Police were also investigating the possibility that the Herselman and Pierre-Louis murders might be connected. In the case of Kirsten, police had approached Interpol to track down his partner, Richard Karp, who had left the country after Kirsten's death. They wanted a statement from him. In perhaps the most high-profile unsolved case, the bodies of the Mbhele sisters - church robes tied around their necks - were found in a field near their home in Pimville, Soweto, two years ago. Lizwe Mvelase (22) Sehla Madondo (22) and Makhisi Michael Mvelase were arrested and charged with their rape, kidnapping and murder but charges were withdrawn. "The charges against the men were provisionally withdrawn, and the investigations are still continuing," Tsunke said Esaw Mbhele, the father of Lindiwe and Nelisiwe, lives in hope that his daughters' killers will be caught. "At the moment we don't have a clue what is going on with the investigation," he said. "The past two years have been very hard for our family but we will never give up hope that the murderers will be caught one day." The Star is offering R50 000 to anyone who can help the police find and prosecute the sisters' killers By Lee Rondganger The Star 14/06/07 e1