Police ‘withheld vital evidence’ in rape, murder case of Benoni woman (86)

2017-08-11 16:50

The Mpakanyanes believe the justice system has well and truly failed them.

Not only was 86-year-old Mmule Mpakanyane raped and strangled on October 13 last year, but the suspect in the case is yet to be charged as a result of alleged incompetency by Actonville police officers who, up until recently, failed to submit the DNA evidence that was collected at the crime scene for forensic analysis.

Mpakanyane was an active community member and respected ANC stalwart, who was loved by the community of Wattville in Benoni, on Johannesburg’s East Rand.

Her body was discovered by a tenant.

A suspect was arrested and denied bail by the Benoni Magistrates’ Court, but is yet to be charged for the crime,

Today her family and community members took to the streets. Her son, Thabo Mpakanyane, handed over a memorandum to the Actonville Police station and lodged a formal complaint about the inefficiencies of the station. He believed that court proceedings have been negatively affected by “Actonville police ineptitude”.

In the memorandum handed to police was a complaint about the DNA kit being locked in an officer’s drawer/locker from October 2016 to July 2017.

The memorandum that was handed over to the Actonville Police Station earlier today. Picture: Boitumelo Mpakanyane
The memorandum is accepted by members of Actonville Police Station from Thabo Mpakanyane and Charmaine Vilane. Picture: Mmule Mpakanyane Junior

Mpakanyane explained to City Press that the kit was only submitted to the forensics department of the SAPS when the magistrate, in shock, enquired about the results.

“My mother’s cellphone was taken when she was killed that day, and it was used for days after that and we could trace the movement but the police did not act on it. The case has been remanded five times,” he said.

Charmaine Vilane, who heads the ANC women’s and children’s section in Benoni and has been rallying support for the family since Mpakanyane’s murder, said that she was very disappointed.

“The justice system is failing us. The police station withheld vital evidence and we are tired now,” Vilane said.

When City Press spoke to Major Mack Mngomezulu to get clarity on what has been happening at Actonville Police Station, he said that he was told by the investigating officer that “there was a delay from the forensics department in submitting the report results done on the DNA” but that the DNA test kit had been submitted.

When probed about this, Mngomezulu said that this is what he had been told and that an internal investigation would have to take place in order to establish why there was a delay with the submission of the DNA test kit.

Thabo Mpakanyane said that the court was still waiting for the results of the DNA.

“It is not just about my mother here. Obviously we want justice and we want the murderer to be jailed but the fact of the matter is that Actonville Police Station has been known to be inefficient, and this delays the course of justice. We can’t be living in a society where we are failed by the justice system,” Mpakanyane said.

He also said that he was worried about the evidence because the test kit was submitted so late.

“My fear is that the evidence has been tampered with or that the state of the DNA is in a bad condition,” he said.

The case has been adjourned until August 16.

Avantika Seeth
Multimedia journalist
City Press
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