The city bigwig’s car, his driver and a murdered woman
Police grapple with a slew of unanswered questions after eThekwini Municipality speaker's bodyguard kills his girlfriend, then himself
Why was the luxury car belonging to the eThekwini Municipality speaker parked at an Umlazi garage in the early hours of the morning? What led to a woman being fatally shot by the driver, and who covered it up?
These are some of questions before the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) following the shooting of 30-year-old Thandeka Gwala outside a garage in Q-section in the early hours of July 1, in front of shocked petrol attendants, by her boyfriend, Philani Zuma, the driver and bodyguard of speaker William Lekgoa Mapena.
After the shooting Zuma, 47, from Nkandla, dragged her bleeding body into the car and drove to Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital where he dumped her body in the parking lot before racing off. He later totalled the car and turned the gun on himself outside the metro police headquarters in Durban.Ipid has confirmed it is investigating the double shooting after allegations that the Durban metro police were sworn to secrecy about the incident and that officials at the municipality kept it under wraps.
Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: “I can confirm that Ipid is investigating this matter. We are investigating in line with section 28 of the Ipid Act of 2011, which requires that the Ipid investigate all deaths as a result of police action. No report was received from the eThekwini metro police. We will open a case of failure to report.”
Municipal officials declined to comment, saying this was a criminal matter, and referred queries to the police.KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said a case of murder was being investigated by the Umlazi SAPS and an inquest docket was being investigated by the Durban Central SAPS.
Gwala’s relative, who asked not to be named, said she was not aware of any problems between the two. She said that on the day of the shooting she joined Zuma and Gwala at a friend’s home where they watched a World Cup soccer match. She left them at 5pm but received news at 3am that Gwala had been shot.A witness at the garage said Zuma, Gwala and another man had parked in front of the garage. The two men, who appeared to be inebriated, got out of the car and chatted while Gwala remained inside the car. “All of a sudden the woman jumped out of the car and ran away. Zuma called her but she continued running. He then pulled out a gun and shot her at close range. He then tried to pull her into the car but could not and he then reversed his car and put her inside and drove off,” said the witness, adding that he was still traumatised by the incident.
“My stomach was churning as I had never seen something like that. I really don’t know that the problem was.”
Another Gwala family member, who asked not to be named, said Zuma’s family had come to his home to apologise to the family for the incident. They offered the family a goat and money.
“They said he had a family problem but did not elaborate what kind of a problem it was,” he said.
It is believed that he was married and had a domestic dispute with his wife.
Zuma’s brother, Dumisani Zuma, didn’t respond to queries.In a Facebook post on the day he was buried, Zuma’s relative Khayo Hugo Zuma described him as a hero and humble person. “In this man we lost a brother, we lost a friend, we lost a pillar of strength, we lost a comrade, we lost a guerilla, we lost a hero. Within what I can regard as a short period of time God gave us with this guy we've done quite a lot together. A humble respectful soul even though he was older than me but always referred to me as ‘Bhuti Hugo’. I don't want to even begin explaining my emotional paralysed feelings as he is laid to rest today.”
DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham said: “This is a horrific incident, and we are sad to see another woman killed like this. This also raises serious concerns as to why these security vehicles aren't being properly managed and security processes aren’t being adhered to. More critically, we want to know why this matter was covered up like it was.”