Family say police didn’t inform them of murder

| Nwabisa Pondoyi
Photo by Alan Cleaver used under CC BY 2.0.

Friends of Odwa Mafa, a 25-year-old CPUT student murdered on 2 August, are accusing the South African Police Service (SAPS) of insensitivity for failing to notify the student’s family of his death.

According to an eyewitness account and police reports, Mafa was stabbed twice in the chest in Belhar and was found by police in the early hours of the morning. The police removed the corpse but according to family members, failed to notify the family although his student card was allegedly found on the crime scene. His family and friends only learned that he had been killed a week later.

Malwande Poso, a friend of the deceased said: “I tried calling him but I couldn’t reach him, and he usually gets back to me when he gets my missed calls. But this time he didn’t.”

His friends became worried when he was absent from class. They started looking for him after he missed an important test.

“We started asking around until we met the person who called the police. He told us about what he saw that night even though he was highly intoxicated. We went to the police station.”

“When we got there we learned that on the crime scene they [SAPS] found his student card but never bothered to contact the university. When we got to the police station they told us the detective in charge of the case was in a parade and that we should wait for him.”

It was left to these friends to inform Mafa’s family in the Eastern Cape.

“A lady from the police station advised that we go straight to Tygerberg mortuary to identify his body. I saw the pictures there … He was my friend, dead and no one even knew he had passed on. I had to to break the news to his brother.”

Captain FC Van Wyk, SAPS Western Cape spokesman, said: “If a body of a person is recovered it is the duty of the investigating officer to make attempts to identify details of the deceased, and where possible inform the family. However, it is complicated if the person is unknown”

Van Wyk explained the details of the case in an email. The case report indicated that the deceased could not be identified. According to this report he was only identified after friends came to the police station to report him missing.

Andisiwe Thobi, a student from CPUT, said: “Apparently the police had his student card with them but made no attempt to contact the university or the family which I find to be irresponsible and unprofessional.”

When Captain Van Wyk and the detective in charge of the case were asked about the student card, they refused to comment because the investigation was still ongoing.

Two male suspects aged 24 and 27 and one 29-year-old female were arrested and remanded in prison, said Captain Van Wyk.

Corrections were made to this article. The headline was changed. The article now also makes it clearer that the claim that the police failed to inform the family is an allegation made by family members.

TOPICS:  Crime Murder

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