SOUTH Africa: As crime subsides in Diepsloot after the deployment of additional police to curb tensions between locals and foreign nationals, the widow of Elvis Nyathi, who was murdered in April, has refused to return to SA – even as a state witness.
Nyathi’s cousin Mphathisi Ndlovu told Sowetan yesterday that Nomsa still fears for her life. The men accused of killing her husband in an alleged mob attack briefly appeared at the Randburg magistrate’s court yesterday. The family is originally from Zimbabwe.
Nyathi was killed in April allegedly by a mob searching for criminals and illegal foreign nationals who they accused of committing crimes in the township north of Johannesburg. Nomsa was present on the night the father of her four children was assaulted and torched by the mob.
Nomsa, who is expected to be a key witness when the matter goes to trial, fled back to Zimbabwe with her children soon after the death of her husband.
Ndlovu said the Nyathi family has tried to convince Nomsa to return to SA to assist in the case but she flatly refuses.
“Even the Zimbabwean government has tried to assure her that they will protect her when she returns to SA but she refuses to change her mind. “She is very scared. It’s understandable because she went through something that has traumatised her and negatively changed her life,” said Ndlovu.
The seven accused in the Nyathi case are currently out on R3,000 bail each.
Cedric Raseale, Baron Mashele, Godfrey Mahlo, Thomas Serebane, Phumuduza Tshirangwana, Thabo Makgatho and Puleng Chipape face charges of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault with intent to do bodily harm and extortion.
The matter has been postponed to August 24 for further investigation.
Sowetan visited Nyathi’s home in Diepsloot. The tiny shack that was home to the deceased and his family was locked with no-one inside. Neighbours said the structure has not been occupied since the incident.
“My cousin was killed in the most brutal manner. All we want is to see those responsible for his death being arrested. We have faith in the South African legal system and we believe the court will help us find closure,” said Ndlovu.
Elvis Nyathi received a Zimbabwean government-funded funeral.
After his death, several senior SA government officials visited Diepsloot to calm tensions, including police minister Bheki Cele and home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Additional specialised police officers and vehicles were deployed in the area to improve safety.
The strong police presence seems to have produced positive results, according to some Diepsloot residents.
“Murder and house break-in cases have dropped since the deployment of additional police in our area. We are happy that the police presence remains high in our township.
“Most of our streets are covered with potholes but we have established community patrol groups to assist in areas where police vehicles cannot easily reach in cases of emergency,” said Madlozi Ndlazi, a member of the Diepsloot Residents Association.
Home affairs officials were also deployed to Diepsloot to vet undocumented foreign nationals.
“There is still a huge influx of undocumented foreign [nationals] in Diepsloot. Many went into hiding when the ministers were here, but undocumented foreign nationals are back. They are operating different businesses on every street corner,” said motor mechanic Motimele Mamodiela.