‘He killed my son’

Published Mar 12, 2013


Almost 15 years after her teenage son was killed by police, a KwaZulu-Natal woman has identified a former reservist from the disbanded Cato Manor organised crime unit – a man she went on to help with domestic chores – as one of the alleged culprits.

Sibongile Dorothy Ndlovu said she had kept quiet all these years because she feared losing her job as a domestic worker for Major-General Johan Booysen, the suspended KZN Hawks head.

He was once a close friend of Greek national Ari Danikas, the man she accuses of shooting her son.

Danikas was also the man who supplied footage to investigators of the alleged murders by the Cato Manor squad.

In an e-mail to the Daily News from Greece, Danikas vehemently denied the claim, saying he was not even a reservist at the time. He claimed this was just another dirty tactic by Booysen to implicate him in alleged hit squad killings.

The Cato Manor unit was disbanded last year amid claims that it had operated as a death squad. Twenty-eight of its former members are facing more than 70 charges, including racketeering, murder, and attempted murder.

Ndlovu told the Daily News she saw a picture of Danikas in the Sunday Times two weeks ago, bringing back painful memories of her son’s killing, that she had kept to herself for almost 15 years.

In the article Danikas had told the newspaper that he had witnessed Booysen and the unit operating as a hit squad. He claimed he fled South Africa because he feared for his life.

Ndlovu said when she saw Danikas’s face, she realised she could no longer keep quiet.

“I heard about police killing black people. I was afraid,” she said. “But, I need to know the truth now. I cannot sleep not knowing what happened to my son.”

She said the world needed to know how her son, Moonlight Philani Ndlovu, was shot more than five times in his torso and head with an R-5 rifle. His body was then moved from the scene and dumped near a container to make it appear as if he had been fleeing from police.

Last week, Ndlovu opened up to Booysen and his ex-wife, Letitia, about the shooting.

Booysen said he immediately alerted KZN provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, to Ndlovu’s claims.

A copy of Ndlovu’s detailed affidavit was also sent to the office of the head of KZN detectives, Major-General Mjabuliswa Ngcobo, who sent Booysen an e-mail informing him that the details had been forwarded to the national office for investigation.

Ndlovu said she first came face-to-face with her son’s alleged killer six months after the shooting.

“Mr Booysen had told me to go and work for Ari. When he came to fetch me, I was shocked. I could not even talk,” she said. “I recognised him as one of the policemen who had shot my son.”

For the past 14 years, Ndlovu said she had not heard a word from police about the investigation into her son’s death. She does not even have a case number.

Moonlight was killed during a police raid in Folweni, on July 3, 1998. He had gone to a nearby tavern to buy beer for his father, Celimvume.

Ndlovu said after her son had left she heard the screeching of tyres and saw a red mini-bus taxi being pursued by a marked police Toyota Venture.

“I saw about 10 policemen run into my yard. Some were wearing camouflage clothes; others the blue police uniform and some in civilian clothes.”

She said residents were told to get inside their houses as there was a shooting taking place.

“My husband and I did not want to go inside, because our son was still outside. But they forced us,” she said. “By this time the policemen were hiding around my house and firing at the taxi.”

Ndlovu said the suspects then abandoned their vehicle and police ran after them.

“I could see the tavern from my house. I saw a person kneeling on the road with his hands raised. He had a beer bottle in one hand,” she said. “The policemen who were in my yard started shooting at the person.” She said one of the policemen then shouted that they had shot the wrong person.

“I realised it was my son. I tried to get to him, but they blocked my way.”

Ndlovu said the police then picked up her son’s body, placed it in a white police van and drove off.

“I ran out and called out for my son, but he did not answer. A young boy from the neighbourhood then pointed out where they had taken the body.” She said her son’s body was dumped next to an abandoned container:

“They refused to let me see his body. I pleaded with them. Only after I told them that I worked for Mr Booysen did they let me through.”

“I took off his shirt and saw he had been shot all over. There was even a hole in his head. His body was then taken away by the uMbumbulu police.” She said she later gave a statement to Pinetown police about what she had seen.

“During the shooting I took notice of one of the policemen who was in my yard shooting at my son. He did not cover his face like the others.”

When she went to Danikas’s flat six months later, Ndlovu said she went through his cupboard and saw the camouflage clothes and bulletproof vest from the night her son died.

“I only told my husband about Ari. We decided it was best to remain quiet.”

Ndlovu said she worked for Danikas on two more occasions.

“His parents were visiting from Greece at the time. I became emotional as they were enjoying the benefits of a son. I had been deprived of the same pleasure.”

Danikas disputes this, saying he had spoken to his parents, and in 1998/99 they did not travel to South Africa and had no passport from 1996 to 2000.

Ndlovu said when she saw the article about Danikas and the allegations against the Cato Manor unit, she knew she had to break her silence.

“My son will never come back. But, the policemen who did this must go to jail,” she said. “They killed my youngest child. All their happiness must be taken away.”

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