Pregnant housekeeper accomplice in murder

Image credit: Tracy Lee Stark

During the bail application of a pregnant domestic worker charged with the murder and robbery of her employer, it emerged that she first gave a witness statement denying involvement and then later confessed to playing a role in the organised robbery.

Thohira Mitha was beaten and strangled to death in her Midrand home on December 10 after seven-month pregnant Deliwe Zwakala allegedly played a role in the crime, along with her boyfriend and two other accomplices who are still at large and untraceable.

The court heard that Zwakala was at the deceased’s premises when she gave a witness statement to the first officer on scene.

According to the statement, she arrived for work to find the deceased working on her laptop, and then went about her normal duties.

Around 10:30am, she was cleaning the bedroom when she heard someone knocking on the door, shortly after which she heard Mitha screaming and went to see what was happening.

She was met by three unknown males.

As she apparently tried to help her employer, she was taken to the room by one of the suspects, where she was gagged with a black plastic bag and her legs and hands tied.

Once everything went quiet, she managed to leave the room to investigate and found Mitha on the floor – her hands and feet bound and no sign of life.

She called for help.

However, later on December 10, Zwakala said she knew about the robbery and wanted to talk. Arrangements were duly made to take her confession.

In her confession, she said she knew one of the robbers, who she referred to as “Kulu”, and that she knew and could point out his address.

She had met him in a tavern where contact details were exchanged.

Zwakala, who also has a four-year-old child, stated in her confession that “Kulu” called her often after giving her a phone and asked where she worked and if her employer was wealthy.

On the day of the murder, she even received a call notifying her that they were coming.

One of the three suspects grabbed Zwakala, “Kulu” and the other male held Mitha down and asked Zwakala if she wanted to leave with them after the robbery.

She stated that “Kulu” said all the money taken would be shared with her and that she would be called after the robbery to organise a meeting place to collect the spoils.

“I feel very bad for what happened to my employer,” said Zwakala, as the confession was read out in court.

Zwakala directed police to where two of the stolen laptops were discovered, while her own mother discovered a firearm stolen during the robbery in the shack the Zwakala was staying in.

Her mother called police to hand over the gun, saying she had found it while destroying the shack.

Advocate Mavhavha Twala, for Zwakala, said the confession had been done incorrectly and that his client had assisted with the investigation.

He said his client was Xhosa speaking and the statement was taken down in English and interpreted into Tsonga.

He also claimed that Zwakala assisted in the investigation by telling police where the firearm was, that she was not a flight risk because she was pregnant and that the state had failed to extrapolate on her involvement in the crimes for which she was being charged.

“There is no mention of my client pulling a trigger, causing the deceased to suffocate or tie her hands,” said Twala in a bid for bail.

State prosecutor Yusuf Baba said her pregnancy could not be taken into account as the onus was on the defence to bright to light exceptional circumstances due to the crime committed being a schedule six offence.

“She (Zwakala) was expecting (a child) when the late Mrs Mitha lost her life, this is no exceptional circumstance,” Baba told the court.

Baba also pointed out that in her first statement she had lied and in her confession she did not disclose the full truth.

Putting the confession aside, Baba argued that they could not explain how the firearm was found by her mother in her house, or how Zwakala was able to point out the house of one of the other suspects where the stolen laptops were discovered.

Magistrate Salome le Roux said the “evidence was compelling,” that the accused was a significant flight risk and that the community’s protection outweighed her right to freedom.

While Zwakala’s three alleged accomplices are still on the run and have been identified to police, she was denied bail and will most likely give birth while in custody.

Mitha’s uncle Reshaad Ismail said they were happy with the outcome of the bail application and would now like to see a more active investigation to bring the three other suspects to book.

He added that the death of his niece had caused a lot of strain and had been taking a heavy toll on the family.

“Hearing the details in court is like reliving the nightmare over and over again,” said Ismail.

Zwakala is expected back in court on 4 March.



today in print

today in print