'Hitmen' die as woman faces trial
She is accused of plotting to have her ex-husband killed
Spooked hitmen, dead state witnesses and a litany of coincidences form the lurid backdrop to a case of a Pretoria woman accused of hiring hitmen to kill her ex-husband.
Eulenda Mampana, a former HIV co-ordinator at the department of health, is accused of ordering a R150,000 hit on Robert Mampana, the head of human resources at the NPA.
Eulenda's earlier brushes with the law - including convictions for shoplifting items such as meat packs and peanuts - were also detailed in court papers.
But the criminal case against her could be hampered by the absence of three key ingredients - one of the alleged hitmen who turned state witness was found murdered, another is dead and a third is missing.
During her previous appearance in the Pretoria North magistrate's court, detective constable Evans Mongwe submitted an affidavit suggesting the men were allegedly approached in April 2018 with an offer of R150,000 to get rid of Eulenda's ex-husband. However, the Sunday Times has learnt that prior to this, Robert had already fallen victim to a series of potentially deadly incidents since the Mampanas' divorce was finalised in 2016.
An attempted hijacking in Mamelodi in 2016 was followed by a successful hijacking at gunpoint in the same area a few months later, a source close to the family said.
The following year Robert was shot in the leg in a drive-by shooting. He was returning home from work when three men in another vehicle fired shots at him, and it was only after residents of nearby houses came to his aid that the attackers sped off, the source added.
Mamelodi police spokesperson Capt Michael Mbewe confirmed a case related to the shooting at Robert's home had been opened on June 20 2017, but said no arrests had been made.
According to Mongwe's statement, the three men approached in April were seemingly unwilling to murder someone with links to the NPA, and ultimately informed Robert of his ex-wife's plot.
Eulenda was arrested last year and appeared at the Pretoria North court on May 23. In her bail affidavit, the 36-year-old argued that if she remained in custody, her three children with Robert would be prejudiced.
"My children are all in school and I am the one who cares for them. Because of my strong family ties, I submit that it is highly improbable that I will flee my trial."
R150,000 - The amount allegedly promised to hitmen to kill Robert Mampana
3 - The number of hitmen involved who have either died or gone missing
6 - The number of months Eulenda Mampana unsuccessfully fought to secure bail
She also declared multiple prior convictions for theft and shoplifting between 1999 and 2018. A series of annexures linked to the bail application show that Eulenda had stolen from multiple stores in Pretoria North, including Pick n Pay, Checkers, Pep and Rage. In these incidents, she was listed as having stolen pork packs, lamb packs, soap, toothpaste, a packet of peanuts, men's sneakers, men's boots and men's sandals, among other items that in total were worth only a few thousand rand.
An admission of guilt fine was paid.
Eulenda abandoned her bail application late last year, and remains in custody at Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre in Pretoria.
Her criminal proceedings are set down to continue later this month and the trial will likely be transferred to the high court.
One of the alleged hitmen "was found murdered near Soshanguve hostel two weeks ago", said Gauteng police spokesperson Lt Col Lungelo Dlamini. "He was fatally shot. Another man who was also possibly linked as a hitman also died, but details surrounding his death are not available. The third man has not been located."
Stephen Tuson, adjunct professor at the Wits Law Clinic, said that key witnesses going missing could be the death knell for a case, because even if they submitted affidavits implicating the accused, they may not be accepted.
Without the men able to testify or be cross-examined, the evidence can't be tested, meaning it would be significantly weaker in the eyes of the court.
Meanwhile, a source linked to the defence team has told the Sunday Times the alleged hitmen had been used as part of a sting operation to gather evidence on Eulenda. Her defence advocate could argue this was entrapment and try to have the case thrown out on this factor alone.
Robert declined to comment, other than confirming he and his wife divorced in 2016.