Johannesburg - An ugly family feud over the rights to the body of a police officer gunned down outside her home three weeks ago has spilt over into the courtroom.
“The fact that I have not been able to bury my daughter properly or even see her remains at the mortuary is killing me.”
These were the grief-laden words of Lindi Zulu, the mother of Inspector Ayanda Zulu - a Joburg metro police officer who was shot and killed earlier this month outside her home in Palm Springs while leaving for work.
Ayanda has not been buried because of a dispute between her family and Leonard Khosa - the man who claims to have been legally married to her.
The two families are embroiled in a bitter legal tussle in the high court in Joburg regarding whether Khosa and Ayanda were legally married under customary law, and who has the rights to bury the slain officer.
On Monday, Zulu testified that although R25 000 was paid for her daughter as lobolo in 2014, Ayanda and Khosa were not married because a handover ceremony from the Zulu family to the Khosas had not been performed.
“The handover (ceremony) was not done. I took the process as lobolo to build a relationship (between the two families). They paid lobolo, but my daughter was not officially handed over to the Khosas because I, together with my daughter, were supposed to meet with their elders in Tzaneen (in Limpopo),” Zulu testified.
“The crucial part of our culture did not take place. We were supposed to slaughter a cow, and they were supposed to do the same (to cement the marriage),” the 78-year-old told the court.
But advocate Henny Mnisi, who is representing the Khosa family, maintained that his clients had adhered to the tenets of customary law by paying the lobolo fees to the Zulus.
His client, Mnisi added, had all the rights to Ayanda’s estate and her body.
“The issue in dispute is about the validity of the marriage, which we believe our client and the deceased to have entered into.
“Our submission to the court is that our client has entered into a valid customary marriage.”
After the proceedings, Mnisi told The Star: “The issue of the handover of marriage, which was raised by the applicant we believe that to be immaterial, because we believe the marriage to be valid.”
With sorrow deeply etched on her face, Ayanda’s mother broke down numerous times during her testimony, with the judge having to adjourn proceedings momentarily.
Speaking after presenting her testimony, Zulu, who is originally from Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, said her health was deteriorating rapidly because she had not been able to lay her last-born child to rest.
“I’m relieved after my testimony because I believe this case is coming to an end soon.
“I don’t even want to speak about not being able to bury my daughter, because I might even collapse right here.
“I almost died on Friday, after collapsing while thinking about my ordeal. It is very painful.”
The case was due to continue today, with cultural experts expected to testify as to whether customary laws had been adhered to.