David Ngwenya was arrested on Thursday in Carletonville and appeared in the Springs Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of premeditated murder for Yende’s death.
This comes as police confirmed to The Star that Yende might have been murdered elsewhere and brought to the Eskom substation in Selcourt, Springs, where she worked.
Phakamile Hlubi, spokesperson for metalworkers’ union Numsa, told The Star that according to a preliminary report the union carried out, it appeared Ngwenya was an employee of Eskom.
“As a recognised trade union at Eskom, we have a substantial representation at the company. So within our own members, we were able to determine who he is and his position at the company. He is possibly a senior supervisor in that region,” Hlubi said.
“We took the name (of Ngwenya) and put it into our system. And our members were able to confirm there is a David Ngwenya employed by Eskom. Now, if it is the same David Ngwenya who was arrested for this crime, then this David Ngwenya is a senior supervisor at Eskom – he is a manager in that region,” Hlubi asserted.
She added: “If it is true that Ngwenya is a senior supervisor at Eskom, then we, as Numsa, believe Eskom has no choice but to take full responsibility for Yende’s death.”
However, police spokesperson Captain Johannes Ramphora said he could not confirm whether Ngwenya was an employee at Eskom, adding that the ongoing investigation would determine his links to the power utility.
“We are still trying to determine who he was operating with when he allegedly murdered Thembisile.
"We are also searching for this car the suspects were using when the alleged crime was committed. We believe they were using a white BMW when this murder took place.”
On the details surrounding Yende’s death, Ramphora said: “From the information we gathered from our investigations, it appears she was murdered somewhere else and brought to the plant after she was dead. But this can only be confirmed as the investigation unfolds.”
This correlates with what another police spokesperson, Sergeant Harry Manaka, told The Star last month, when he said this could explain why sniffer dogs did not detect Yende’s scent at the substation when a search was conducted following her disappearance.
Asked whether Ngwenya’s arrest meant that there was involvement of Eskom employees in Yende’s death, considering that someone with access to the plant would have helped place Yende’s body there, Ramphora said: “Our investigations revolve both within and outside of Eskom, as there is a possibility that Eskom employees were involved at the time of the disposal of Thembisile’s body, but, as I said, the investigations will reveal further details.”
Yende’s decomposing body was found in an office at the Eskom plant with her head covered in a black plastic bag, almost two weeks after she went missing on her way to work.
Her brother, Mboneni, told The Star that his mother “had an idea” who the suspect was, but did not elaborate.
Ramphora said he could not reveal whether they had a strong case against Ngwenya.
Ngwenya was refused bail and will appear again in court on Friday.