A 35-year-old Zimbabwean man, employed as a gardener, has been nabbed along with three Batswana after allegedly illegally obtaining an Omang and masquerading as his late boss to steal at least P3.9 million from the deceased.
Bhekizwe Nkomazana and three Batswana, one of whom works at Civil and National Registry, have been charged with theft common, official corruption, obtaining by false pretences and giving false information in applying for Omang registration. His girlfriend, Ketshepile Lompehu, has also been charged as an accomplice in the matter. She allegedly masqueraded as the deceased’s daughter.
The four accused appeared before Extension II magistrate, Ntombizodwa Ncube yesterday charged with an elaborate scheme to hide the death of businessman, Solomon Tlhapane, assume his identity with a false Omang, then strip his cash and assets. Tlhapane was a director at Meepong Investments.
The Investigating Officer (IO) detective superintendent, Sergeant Marapo told the court that he had received a report that a corpse had been kept at Travellers Mortuary since the September 1, 2016. He said he then established that the corpse was that of an 89-year-old man indeed and that it had previously been at a South African mortuary since June 20 this year.
“I went to the Tlokweng border to verify whereupon I learnt that Lompehu had claimed to be the deceased’s daughter. I had also learnt from the mortuary that the deceased’s gardener of 25 years, Nkomazana, had ordered a P45,000 casket and vanished,” he said. Police were able to establish that the 89-year-old had crossed alive into South Africa on May 24.
Marapo told the court that he had then proceeded to investigate the deceased’s bank accounts and established that Nkomazana had been misusing Tlhapane’s money before the elderly man left for South Africa, and while he was there. According to the IO, a house in Extension 11 and a ploughing field in Oodi had been illegally sold and the monies deposited into Nkomazana’s account.
Marapo told the court that the power of attorney and title deed for the field were signed on August 4 and 19 respectively and these were forged as the elderly
Marapo said deceased’s daughters believed their father was alive and well in Botswana as Nkomazana had assured them about the elderly man’s welfare. The daughter told Marapo that the gardener had secured R10,000 claiming that her father wanted funds and could not go to the bank. The IO said the daughter had agreed as Nkomazana had been their gardener for 25 years and the family trusted him. It was not immediately clear in court how Nkomazana could have worked for 25 years and be 35years old. Marapo said Nkomazana and Lompehu were arrested at Riverwalk Mall on Friday, with the girlfriend being found in possession of a P150,000 cheque issued by Nkomazana.
Marapo said Lompehu was also in possession of a Botswana identity card with Nkomazana’s picture, but bearing the names Khaya Bheki Mazibuku. He said Nkomazana had in his possession a Zimbabwean passport, which showed that he departed Botswana on the February 5 and never returned. The gardener also had a Botswana passport in the Mazibuku name.
“My investigations took me to the National Registration office whereupon I discovered that Nkomazana was assisted by Jerico Murima to illegally obtain a Botswana birth certificate from Onthusitse Seoko, a Senior Registrations Officer, for a bribe of P12,000,” he said.
“Nkomazana then proceeded to obtain Omang and a passport using the illegal birth certificate.” Marapo requested that Nkomazana be denied bail as he was in Botswana illegally adding that he was not to be trusted as he had failed to report Tlhapane’s death and had hidden the fact from the deceased’s children.
For his part, Nkomazana asked the court to grant him bail saying he needed to look after his late boss’ dogs at the house.
Magistrate Ncube granted the citizen trio bail and reserved Nkomazana’s bail ruling for Wednesday.