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NATCOM’S OFFICE AWARE POLICE CONCEALING CAUSE OF DEATH - FAMILY

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MANZINI - The family of the late Thabani Nkomonye has alleged that the NATCOM’s office is aware that the police are intentionally concealing the cause of death of their loved one.

This is what Lawyer Mangaliso Nkomondze told the Coroner, Senior Magistrate Nonhlanhla Dlamini, in the presence of the National Commissioner (NATCOM) of Police, William Tsitsibala Dlamini, during his appearance at the ongoing inquest into the death of Nkomonye yesterday. Nkomondze told the coroner that in his mind, he wanted to say that there was negligence by the police in the handing of the matter of the deceased. However, he said the Nkomonye family was concerned the police negligence was a chain which took place for almost a week. “So, they believe there is an element of intention for the police to conceal something and the office of the NATCOM is aware of that,” Nkomondze submitted.

Concealment

However, in response, the police chief told the coroner that he would not agree to the said concealment of information and that his office was aware of that. He submitted that what he knew was that there was a fatal road traffic accident and further mentioned that the truth would eventually come out. The lawyer added that another issue was the rumours about police officers who allegedly killed Nkomonye, which were circulating and the NATCOM’s supposed reluctance to launch a criminal investigation on the basis that he would rely on the report of the coroner. On top of that, he submitted that this was taking place against the backdrop of the chain of police negligence when handling the matter.

“So, can we conclude that there is a systematic concealment, particularly because of your reluctance to launch a criminal investigation into the death of Nkomonye?” the lawyer asked. In response, the NATCOM maintained that he was not aware of any concealment and denied that he was reluctant to institute a criminal investigation. The police chief submitted that all he was asking for was that they should give the coroner time to finish the inquest and thereafter, the police would act accordingly, based on the recommendations that would be made.

Protect

“We are not going to protect police officers who commit criminal offences,” the police chief added. However, the lawyer submitted that depending on the coroner’s report could be dangerous because it might not be conclusive, compared to what could be gathered during an investigation carried out by the police. Again, he submitted that the NATCOM had also mentioned that the coroner could also rely on the police road accident report and occurrence book, which he labelled as erratic. For example, he submitted that at the time of recording the accident in the occurrence book, the police officers were supposed to be at the scene and when they were asked about that, they claimed it was a mistake.

“Didn’t you find it compelling to investigate the matter to see if the police negligence was not driven by ulterior motives?” the lawyer asked and the police chief responded to the negative. Thereafter, the lawyer asked the NATCOM to at least exonerate his conscience about the need to investigate the police because the outcome would not only satisfy him alone, but government and the nation at large.  Nkomondze reiterated that this was an alleged systematic concealment on the real cause of death of Nkomonye and that it was not only because the police were allegedly involved, but there was also the first person to arrive at the scene (Mathokoza Makhanya), who submitted that he did not find the body despite going to the car about two minutes after the accident.

“The police failed to investigate him. And this is happening against the backdrop of how the deceased’s body was found and how his (NATCOM) office is reluctant to find the truth,” the lawyer submitted. In response, the NATCOM submitted that he did not agree with the lawyer. He added that sometimes they did not know if they were advancing or going backwards because at times, the public said the police could not investigate themselves. Earlier on, Advocate Mduduzi ‘Tsotsi’ Mabila had asked the police chief why he did not launch criminal investigations into the death of Nkomonye. The NATCOM alleged that he thought it would be a duplicate of efforts because government initiated the inquest.

Investigation

However, the advocate told him that the police investigation would find out if there were criminal elements in the matter or not. In response, the NATCOM alleged that they did not see it that way as they only thought it would be a duplication of efforts. Thereafter, Advocate Mabila wanted to know if as a police service, they decided to launch a criminal investigation because there was an inquest. “We did not see criminal elements in the matter. But if there are, it will be stated in the inquest’s report,” the NATCOM responded. Mabila told the NATCOM that according to evidence which was submitted to the coroner, his officers searched for the occupants of the car after the accident (night of May 8, 2021) together with members of the public, but did not find the body.

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