Trial was futile, says father of boy slain while lying on couch

Kwazi Ndlovu, 16, was slain while sleeping on a couch in the lounge of his Esikhawini home in Empangeni in 2010. | Supplied

Kwazi Ndlovu, 16, was slain while sleeping on a couch in the lounge of his Esikhawini home in Empangeni in 2010. | Supplied

Published Jul 2, 2024


Durban — The father of a 16-year-old boy who was shot dead while asleep on a sofa in the lounge of his Empangeni home after members of the Durban Organised Crime Unit, previously known as the Cato Manor “Death Squad”, stormed his home, said the family was deeply disappointed.

Sibusiso Ndlovu said the family had been left with no answers and without the closure they had anticipated despite a trial in the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

“We have gained nothing from the trial except to have old wounds opened,” said Ndlovu.

“On the day the defence said in court it would not be submitting the accused’s statement and neither would he be testifying, I knew that that was the end, I knew we would never get to know what happened on that day,” he said.

Warrant Officer Gonasagren Padayachee, who had been on trial, was found not guilty on Tuesday last week of having murdered 16-year-old Kwazi Ndlovu in 2010.

The teen was killed after members of the unit burst into his home and fired shots in his direction. The unit had been looking for an escaped Westville prisoner.

Unit members claimed the teen had a gun. However, his parents testified that the gun had been planted at the scene as no one in the household owned a firearm.

By 2023, Padayachee had become a Detective Warrant Officer with the Hawks. In 2012, he was among 27 officers, mostly former members of the disbanded Organised Crime Unit, Cato Manor, in court facing 116 charges involving 45 murders, among other alleged crimes.

The charges were withdrawn some years later, but in 2016 former National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams reinstated them and in 2019 his successor, Shamila Batohi, again withdrew them following an internal investigation by a panel.

Ndlovu said that he felt the prosecution’s line of questioning in the trial did not take the case further.

“The local station officer who was on duty that day testified that on the day when he arrived on the scene, he did not see the accused,” Ndlovu said.

“He should have been asked whether he knew the accused. If you don’t know what someone looks like, how would he have known that he was not at the scene?

“The State should have probed more on that aspect while leading the officer on the stand. The other officers from the unit who were there were not called. Why were they not called to testify?”

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