‘KFC, curry made me confess’
Durban - The detective investigating the murder of Shakila Singh – killed in a robbery at her Musgrave home – coerced her domestic worker into confessing to the crime by buying her KFC, mutton curry and pies.
This was according to defence attorney Nhlanhla Mnculwane during his cross-examination on Tuesday of investigating officer, Detective Warrant Officer Rajan Govender.
The detective, of the police’s provincial task team, testified in the Durban Magistrate’s Court to oppose bail for domestic worker, Nonjabulo Mteki, 35, and her two co-accused Juma Abdullah, 39, and Kennedy Amon Ngongi, 28, arrested for the murder of Singh.
Mteki, who had made a 22-page confession to a senior magistrate, maintained she was forced into doing so.
She testified she was coerced into confessing, with the promise that she would be released.
Mnculwane told Govender that he got her to confess by buying her KFC, mutton curry and pies over the two days.
Govender said he bought Mteki the meals out of the goodness of his heart because she had complained about the food being served at the police station.
“I treated her with kindness as I would with anybody. Buying her food was not about coercing her or about giving her the story as to what to say,” he testified.
Singh, a retired teacher and mother of two, was found bound and gagged on the floor of her home in a secure multi-unit complex in February.
Only Mteki and Abdullah have applied for bail as Ngongi abandoned his bail application.
A fourth person, believed to be Mteki’s husband, is still at large.
Mnculwane asked Govender whether he believed the charge of murder would hold as the accused could not foresee that Singh would have died.
“She did not die from suffocating. She died from a panic attack,” he said.
“Not to my knowledge,” Govender responded.
Asked what the state pathologist had determined as the cause of death in the autopsy report, Govender said it stated that there was “no specific anatomical cause but suffocation must be considered”.
Mnculwane put it to Govender that a high court in Gauteng had recently found innocent an accused person who had not foreseen the death of a victim.
“I believe I have a very strong case against the accused,” Govender said.
The court heard that the fourth man, a Nigerian, was registered as being married to Mteki.
However, the marriage was ruled as fraudulent by Home Affairs in 2013.
Govender told magistrate Mahomed Motala that investigators had met Mteki’s “husband” during their investigations into the whereabouts of Singh’s missing jewellery.
The hearing was adjourned until June 1 for judgment on bail application.