Former apartheid security branch officer in court for Cosas triple murders 40 years ago

12 October 2021 - 10:57
Christian Siebert Rorich, a former bomb expert and security branch officer, is expected to appear in the Kagiso magistrate’s court on Tuesday. Stock Image
Christian Siebert Rorich, a former bomb expert and security branch officer, is expected to appear in the Kagiso magistrate’s court on Tuesday. Stock Image
Image: 123RFEvgenyi Lastochkin

Christian Siebert Rorich, a former bomb expert and security branch officer, is expected to appear in the Kagiso magistrate’s court on Tuesday in connection with the deaths of three student activists in Krugersdorp nearly 40 years ago.

“This is a welcome step in the right direction in our long, painful 40-year wait and quest for justice as the four families,” spokesperson for the families Mbulelo Musi said.

Eustice Madikela, Ntshingo Mataboge, Fanyana Nhlapo, who were aged between 17 and 21 at the time, were killed, and Zandisile Musi seriously injured when they were blown up in a disused mine pump house in Krugersdorp on Gauteng’s West Rand on February 15, 1982.

The four, who were all members of the Congress of SA Students, were dubbed the Cosas Four.

In September last year, the families of the Cosas Four turned to the courts to force the National Prosecuting Authority to bring the apartheid-era policemen behind the killing of their loved ones to trial.

According to the court application filed in the Krugersdorp magistrate’s court by the Madikela and Nhlapo families, the men were attacked after they were lured to the pump house by then Vlakplaas member and askari Thlomedi Ephraim Mfalapitsa.

They had gone to the pump house allegedly to be trained in the use of weapons to carry out attacks on apartheid government officials.

The families want the court to order that the remains of Madikela, Nhlapo and Mataboge, who are buried at Kagiso Cemetery, be exhumed and subjected to forensic investigations.

Mfalapitsa, 67, a former Vlakplaas policeman, appeared in court earlier this year. The state said before Mfalapitsa defected to the security branch, he had a close relationship with two elder brothers of Musi, who served with him in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC, in exile.

After he defected, Mfalapitsa established contact with Musi, who was a member of Cosas. 

Musi and the three deceased wanted to leave the country to join the ANC in exile with a group of other comrades.

Musi explored the possibility of leaving the country with Mfalapitsa, whom he erroneously still regarded as a member of MK, unaware that he had become an askari.

Mfalapitsa was allegedly ordered by Jan Carel Coetzee, a commander at Vlakplaas, to lure Musi and the deceased to an explosive-infested pump house at a mine near Krugersdorp, under the guise of giving them military training.

The explosives detonated, killing the deceased instantly. Musi survived the explosion but was severely injured and hospitalised.

In May 1999, former Security Branch officers Coetzee, Willem Frederick Schoon, Abraham Grobbelaar, Rorich and Mfalapitsa were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for their roles in the killings.

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