'Bundle' of insurance policies fuelled policeman's suspicion that Thembisa cop may be killing for cash

Investigating officer listened as Ndlovu requested a sign-off on policy documents which would ultimately see her cash in on thousands of rand after her lover’s brutal death.

09 September 2021 - 07:52
Former police constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu appears at the high court sitting in Palm Ridge, south of Johannesburg. Ndlovu is accused of murdering six of her family members to cash in on insurance and funeral policies she had taken out in their names.
Former police constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu appears at the high court sitting in Palm Ridge, south of Johannesburg. Ndlovu is accused of murdering six of her family members to cash in on insurance and funeral policies she had taken out in their names.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Sergeant Keshi Benneth Mabunda told the court how he was sitting in his office in October 2015 at the Olifantsfontein police station when he saw constable Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu walk into the office adjacent to his carrying a thick stack of policy documents.

He listened as Ndlovu requested Mabunda’s colleague to sign off on the policy documents which would ultimately see her cash in on thousands of rand after her lover’s brutal death.

“After Constable [Moraka] Pale had received those policies, I called him to my office and asked him for those policies. I told Pale that I would investigate because I was suspicious,” Mabunda said.

He was testifying in the high court sitting in Palm Ridge on Wednesday as the state began winding up its case against Ndlovu, accused of murdering six of her relatives and her lover to cash in on funeral and life insurance policies. 

Mabunda explained why his suspicions were aroused.

“I know that as a black person, some people may use those policies [to enrich themselves]. Even me as a police officer, I do not have those kind of policies that she had. It was not one policy. It was a bundle of policies,” Mabunda added.

TimesLIVE has since learnt that Ndlovu had taken out about 16 policies with different companies.

Mabunda knew Ndlovu only as a police officer working in the same cluster as him. She was based at the Thembisa south police station.

Ndlovu had brought the policy documents to Pale as he had been assigned as the investigating officer probing the death of her lover, Yingwani Maurice Mabasa. Mabasa had been found stabbed more than 80 times and his body dumped metres from the Olifantsfontein police station.

His wallet was not taken, leading the police to dispel suspicion that Mabasa could have been killed in a robbery.

Mabunda said he immediately called Clientele, through which Ndlovu stood to be paid after Mabasa’s death. He submitted her ID number.

“We punched in her ID number and found that there were previous policies wherein she had claimed for her sister, Audrey. Those policies were paid out even though there was suspicion about them. There was an inquest docket that was sitting at the Ivory Park police station [over Audrey’s death],” said Mabunda.

Audrey Ndlovu had been killed in June 2013. She had allegedly been given tea laced with a harmful substance and then strangled to death. Ndlovu is alleged to have carried out the murder herself.

Mabunda did further digging into Ndlovu’s policies and it was then he found that yet another relative of Ndlovu, Witness Homu, had died in April 2012.

He had left work and headed home but he never arrived. His body was found dumped between Olifantsfontein and Garsfontein. He had suffered severe head injuries. His cellphone was found in his possession — also dispelling the notion that he was killed in a robbery.

Ndlovu had again cashed in on funeral policies opened under Homu's name. She, however, never assisted with his funeral.

Mabunda said he went back and checked on the investigation around Homu’s death.

“Nothing was happening with the case,” said Mabunda.

Armed with this information, he went to the Ivory Park police station, which was probing Audrey’s death. He changed the inquest docket into one of murder.

 “At that stage, I had information but not enough to arrest her,” said Mabunda.

Police decided to wait and conduct further investigations into Ndlovu’s payouts. During that time, she also lodged claims after the deaths of her nephew, Brilliant Mashego  — Audrey’s son - and her cousin, Zanele Motha.

Brilliant was found murdered near Bushbuckridge in January 2018 and had sustained head injuries. Zanele died in June 2016 after suffering a severe beating that left her with broken ribs and an injured liver. She had been visiting Ndlovu at her Thembisa home when she was inexplicably attacked. Brilliant had also left home, saying he was scheduled to meet up with Ndlovu when he was murdered.

Police eventually nabbed Ndlovu after a hitman she had hired to kill to her mom, her sister and her five nieces and nephews went to her station commander and reported her. A sting operation was set up where the hitman and his friend were joined by an undercover cop. They all drove to Bushbuckridge where Ndlovu showed them where her sister and her five children, whom she wanted killed, lived.

Ndlovu was arrested that day and has been in custody since.

During the trial, the state led evidence that suggested that Ndlovu went to great lengths to commit fraud to open life insurance policies in some of her victims' names.

She allegedly posed as Audrey when she opened a life insurance policy in her name. Ndlovu listed herself as the beneficiary on that policy.

Audio recordings taken from the insurance companies were analysed by an audiologist expert who found that calls, which were said to have been made by Audrey, were actually made by her sister, Ndlovu. The audiologist picked up specific ways in which Ndlovu spoke, including the pronunciation of the letter ‘r’ that led to him concluding it was Ndlovu in the recordings.

When it came to life insurances opened by Ndlovu’s lover, Yingwani, she is alleged to have solicited the help of another man to pose as Yingwani and open the policy. Ndlovu was listed as the sole beneficiary in the policy.

Ndlovu faces a string of charges, including murder, attempted murder or conspiracy to commit murder, fraud and defeating the ends of justice.

She has pleaded not guilty to the crimes.

When her lawyer had the opportunity to cross-examine Mabunda after his evidence, Ndlovu suggested that Mabunda had alternative motives in pursuing this case.

She said Mabunda had actually helped her lodge the Old Mutual payout when he visited her house after Yingwani’s death.

Mabunda laughed off the allegations.

“She's lying,” he told the court. 

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