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Alibi 2 | Episode 2 | Meet the Police Officer Father And Visit Glebelands

We go into episode 2 of Alibi: Laduma High and uncover more of the case.

Find the latest episode on these platforms:

In the last episode we met Siya Bekwa, the son of our father-son investigative team. Now I’m meeting Sya’s father, Detective Warrant Officer Dumisani Bekwa where he works at Prestbury Police Station. Siya tells his father everything. They share the same cellphone. If you want to contact Siya then you need to phone his father.

For six podcast episodes we at Volume are looking into the the case of Priscilla Mchunu’s assassination. So far this much is known: on the 18th of March, 2017, the acting principal Priscilla was shot and killed, in front of her class, at Laduma High School with 19 bullets.

I first came to know of the case when I met with Reverend Gidi of KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) about assassinations in the province. I was looking for something new to investigate, though I never could have imagined anything like this.

I’m visiting Dumisani to get a better grip on the investigation that he is conducting with his son. He says he won’t speak to me as a police officer, but in his capacity as a concerned parent. He is in a red and orange striped T-shirt and is on standby, this means he has to make sure all the dockets that come in while he’s on shift are processed.

It is Friday afternoon I am in the parking lot of Prestbury Police Station in the suburbs, away from Laduma High, on the other side of Pietermaritzburg. Mpumuza, where Laduma High is and Siya lives, has goats and chickens walking the streets along with the people and the occasional car. By contrast this is an affluent area with no pavements because the residents are exclusively driving from their homes instead of walking. Prestbury isn’t handling Priscilla’s murder, but Dumisani is still looking into the case.

I am looking into Priscilla’s death in the hope of understanding the assassination crisis plaguing this part of South Africa. I’m digging into who this woman was, what she meant to the people left behind and how they are trying to make sense of their trauma.

The question that Dumisani is often asked is why can’t the police solve this case? It’s something that I have asked myself dozens of times. It frustrates me. So I imagine it must be unbearable for him to feel like he is being blamed for the case’s stagnation. But then he adds something else, perhaps suggesting why it hasn’t been solved. “There is a hunger for power there. They want power,” he says, referring to the teachers at the school. “They wanted the post.” This talk of the “post”, as Dumisani calls it, meaning a job, at Laduma High occurs repeatedly. The fact that Priscilla was killed so someone else could take her job as Acting Principal. They were after the post, that was the prize. “There are people who want to be in charge,” he says. They are power hungry and we should move them, he says.

Dumisani brings home packs of photos, mug shots, for his son, Siya, who witnessed the murder. He wants to check if Siya can identify “the shooter” as he calls it. Siya says that he’d be able to spot the killers with no problem. When he says this I’m reminded that this story is a community of rumours, hearsay and people that are hard to trust. When I go and visit Siya again he says that he would have no problem identifying the assassins. “I can’t get them out of my mind,” he says. He made a sketch of the assassins at the police station when the murder first happened. I ask him how he felt giving evidence.

“It was a relief at first,” he says. He thought, okay, they are going to catch them. “As the time went by nothing happened. No feedback. Nothing.” It’s this inertia in the case that means Dumisani keeps getting questioned about why he isn’t doing anything. People don’t realize that siyas Dad is working of his own accord, on the sly. And unfortunately, he hasn’t brought a photo home yet for siya that matches the identity of the shooter.

And Dumisani is convinced that the hit wasn’t ordered by one person. “You can’t work alone. You need to get information,” he says. Finally, I ask him: Do you think you could have solved the case? Do you think the person would have gone to jail if you’d been working on it officially?

“I don’t know,” he says.

“It sounds like you would have,” I say.

“I have an idea of what I would have done,” he says with confidence.

So Dumisani had information about the case, he told the investigating officer at the time, but they never bothered to come and take a statement from him. That was the first guy working on the case. We are now on the third investigating officer. I have been trying to contact all three of them. And I am contacting the police because I want to know whythe case has been moved from one person to the next. And I want to know why the case seems to be dormant. I get nothing.

And then when I call the second investigating officer — on one Tuesday morning — he answers. We will get more information from this conversation and from the cops in general on how they are dealing with the case in the next episode.

This is the second series of the podcast Alibi. The first series was released almost three years ago and delved into a possible wrongful conviction.

You can find the podcast “Alibi 2: Laduma High” on timeslive, at www.volume.africa/alibi or wherever you get your podcasts.

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