Former police officer Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu, who was accused of killing her lover, sister, cousin, niece and two nephews to cash out on life and funeral policies, was on Friday found guilty of murder of all six victims.
Ndlovu’s conviction was pronounced by judge Ramarumo Monama in the high court sitting in Palm Ridge after a three-month trial which dominated national headlines.
The 46-year-old ex-policewoman, who had been stationed at the Thembisa south police station, had pleaded not guilty to the string of charges against her, which included murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder.
On Friday, she was also found guilty of the attempted murder of her mother Maria Mushwana, guilty of defeating the ends of justice and fraud on Clientele, 1-life, Old Mutual and Assupol insurance companies.
On the conspiracy count, the court found the state had not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt. This count was discharged.
Ndlovu’s spree of “killing for cash” was brought to a halt in March 2018 when a man who she had hired to kill her sister Joyce and Joyce’s five children turned to the police. A sting operation was set up where an undercover police officer was brought under the guise of assisting this would-be hitman, Njabulo Kunene, and his friend in wiping out Joyce and her family.
During the undercover operation, Ndlovu was recorded on a hidden device, planted in the vehicle she and the three men were travelling in, detailing how she wanted Joyce and her five kids – the youngest was just five months old – to be burnt alive in their home.
Ndlovu had in her own words told the “hitmen” that she wanted the job done as she was desperate for cash and on the brink of losing her BMW vehicle to a loan shark she had owed money to.
Her sister’s death, she said, would mean she could get a financial boost through funeral insurance policies. The hitmen were to be paid from the same insurance payout.
The three would-be hitmen were part of a group of more than 50 state witnesses who testified and gave details on how besides Joyce, Ndlovu had also wanted her mother, Maria Mushwana, and her cousin, Gladys, killed.
The two other recruited hitmen were friends with Kunene. He had met Ndlovu through official police work. She had arrested him several years earlier on a gun possession charge. Several years later, Ndlovu befriended a woman by the name of Cebisile, who turned out to be Kunene’s cousin. Kunene and Ndlovu met at Cebisile’s residence in December 2017 and from that day, Ndlovu recruited him and begged him to help her kill her relatives.
Ndlovu had no witnesses except her mother coming to her defence, while the state provided witnesses including police officers who investigated the killings, cellphone records which placed Ndlovu in the company of most of her victims before their deaths, documents from insurance companies showing how she had strategically opened the insurance policies against all her victims and at times giving false information in the policy documents.
Ndlovu countered this evidence with denials. She disputed the testimony of almost every state witness, accusing them of lying or fabricating untruths about her.
Ndlovu’s version was that the many policies that she had for her relatives all came from a good place, saying she opened them to ensure she would never be left with a financial burden should they die.
While Ndlovu claimed more than R1.4m in insurance claims, she did not contribute to most of her victims’ funerals.
Ndlovu’s victims were:
- Her cousin Witness Madala Homu. He was murdered in March 2012 on his way home from work. His body was found dumped in Johannesburg and he had sustained head injuries. The state alleged Ndlovu had hired a hitman to carry out this crime. She claimed more than R131,000 from policies after his death.
- Her sister Audrey Somisa Ndlovu. She was found poisoned and strangled to death in her rented room in Tembisa in June 2013. Ndlovu is alleged to have taken out numerous policies in her sister’s name. She is also alleged to have called the insurance companies while posing as Audrey. It was then that she listed herself as a beneficiary to Audrey’s policies. Ndlovu claimed more than R717,000 in insurance payouts.
- Her boyfriend Yingwani Maurice Mabasa. He died in October 2015 after being stabbed more than 80 times. His body was dumped near the Olifantsfontein police station. None of his valuables were taken. The state alleged Ndlovu had taken out several policies in Mabasa’s name and had recruited a man to take out life insurance policies while posing as Mabasa. In some insurance policies, she had listed Mabasa as her spouse and herself as the beneficiary. She paid the premiums and cashed in more than R416,000 after Mabasa’s death. She contributed R40,000 for his funeral.
- Her niece Zanele Motha. She died in June 2016 after claims she had been attacked in the streets of Kempton Park. At the time Motha was visiting Ndlovu. Two days before her death, Motha had been treated at the Tembisa Hospital for scratches and bruises which she said came after she was hit by a bicycle. On her second admission, Motha was rushed to the Arwyp Medical Centre in Kempton Park, where she was found to have suffered fractured ribs and a damaged liver. Ndlovu allegedly cashed in almost R120,000 in policies for Motha.
- Her nephew Mayeni Mashaba, who was Motha’s brother. He died in April 2017, on the same day he had arranged to meet Ndlovu in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni. His body was found dumped near Olifantsfontein. He had sustained major head injuries. His cellphone records put him in the same location as Ndlovu at the time of his death. She had policies opened in Mashaba’s name but due to some discrepancies on some forms, she did not get a payout on the policies.
- Her nephew Brilliant Mashego. He was the son of Audrey, whom Ndlovu is accused of killing several years earlier. Mashego died in January 2018 after allegedly catching wind of news that Ndlovu had pocketed cash after his mother’s death. Ndlovu had taken Mashego under her wing with a promise that she would help him find a job. Mashego’s body was dumped at a marketplace in Bushbuckridge a few days after he had left home, allegedly to meet Ndlovu. She had policies taken out in his name but could not claim on them because she had listed him as her son but could not provide proof for claiming purposes.