Principal appears alongside wife of slain cop and prisoner

20 November 2023 - 17:20
School principal Sthembiso Khumalo (right) appeared in the uMlazi magistrate's court in connection with the death of Capt Zwelakhe Ntombela in May.
Image: Mfundo Mkhize School principal Sthembiso Khumalo (right) appeared in the uMlazi magistrate's court in connection with the death of Capt Zwelakhe Ntombela in May.

A third accused nabbed in connection with the murder of eThekwini metro police Capt Zwelakhe Thomas Ntombela in May made a brief court appearance at uMlazi magistrate's court on Monday.

School principal Sthembiso Khumalo joined Ntombela’s wife, Nongcebo Faith Ntombela, and prisoner Khulani Cele in the dock at a packed court on Monday. Cele is serving a life sentence for a murder conviction in a Kokstad prison.

Hawks members carrying high-calibre rifles maintained a security presence inside the tiny courtroom as Khumalo, who is based at a school in rural KwaMaphumulo, north of Durban, wore a cloth mask over his face.

Thomas Ntombela, who was attached to the VIP protection unit, had 30 years’ experience. He was killed outside his uMlazi home on May 3.

During the brief court appearance state prosecutor Sabatha Nhlanhla asked the court to adjourn the matter so that bail applications for Ntombela and Khumalo could be heard simultaneously.

Ntombela's attorney Ashwin Rughbeer, however, objected, saying it would prejudice his client, who had spent a lengthy period in detention. He said they were prepared to proceed with a bail application on November 20.

However, the case was remanded to November 29.

The policeman's twin brother, Nkosinathi, who donned a T-shirt bearing his brother's face, said they had learnt about the latest arrest on Saturday.

He said hitman Mandlenkosi Mzo Ntombela spilled the beans on his brother’s murder during his trial in August. Ntombela, who is not a blood relative of the slain policeman's, was sentenced to 20 years.

“We all know too well that Khumalo was found driving a vehicle belonging to Faith at the time of my brother’s memorial service. We also know that the hitman had gone to hide at my brother’s in-laws,” Ntombela alleged.

He said the family had endured a double blow after his brother passing.

“None of Faith’s family members has ever come to our family to express their remorse for my brother's [murder] nor to say that their hands were clean. They have not bothered to visit my elderly mother,” said Ntombela.

“We just want justice. That’s all we want and we have to be patient and wait for justice to take its course. But we are indebted to the police for making arrests,” said Ntombela.

Angry community members sang and chanted before and after the court proceedings. Community member Zamo Dlamini said the murder of the police captain had sent shock waves through uMlazi’s Q section.

“Thomas was someone who was upstanding and well-liked in the community. It’s someone we knew very well.”

She said they would keep a close eye on the matter until it reaches its finality.

“What we want is for her, together with her accomplices, to be sent to jail for a lengthy period. Even if they all get 50 life sentences each that would serve them quite well,” she said.