Crime/09 July 2023,17:15pm/ Mandla Nkosi
Julia Madam, a woman who was killed by Ngwathe Municipality Mayor’s car:image supplied
By Mandla Nkosi: The family of a woman killed by a Free State mayor’s vehicle said they were unhappy that no one had been arrested.
Julia Madam died on 21 May after being hit by one of the Ngwathe Local Municipality’s official vehicles on a regional road.
The vehicle belonged to the office of the mayor, Victoria De Beer-Mthombeni. Madam, 26,was on her way home from Bloemfontein in the company of her sister, Nthabeleng. Nthabeleng, 32, said her sister’s death had caused the family great pain.
However, the fact that no one had been arrested was even worse, she said. Nthabeleng said she had called her boyfriend to tell him that she and her sister were hitchhiking home.
She heard a noise while on the phone, but didn’t realise something was amiss until the driver called out.”I quickly rushed to the side [of the road] she had crossed over to and found her lying on the ground, with no shoes,” said Nthabeleng.
“I shook her body, hoping she would respond, but the people around told me to let her go… she was dead.”Nthabeleng said that, while waiting for police and an ambulance, the vehicle’s driver apologised. He said he had been “been driving for a long time and this had never happened”.
“He [said he] doesn’t know what happened, but [my] sister just appeared out of nowhere,” said Nthabeleng.
According to Nthabeleng, De-Beer Mthombeni was at the accident scene and tried to speak to her. “I didn’t know who that lady was.”
She asked for family contacts, but I ignored her. Only later did I find out that she was the mayor, so I gave her the numbers. “She contacted the family and said she would help with all the funeral arrangements and anything we needed.”
The casket was paid for, and groceries and scones were supplied to the family. However, Nthabeleng said the mayor’s office showed “no remorse for my sister’s death”.
“They didn’t come to the funeral. I constantly called them to communicate arrangements. They just killed our sister and moved on like nothing happened,” said Nthabeleng.
“The police have not made any arrests since May. When we reach them, they always say they are busy with investigations.” De Beer-Mthombeni’s office said the family was offered support in various ways.
“The mayor personally ensured that the undertaker’s fees for the funeral proceedings, and things like groceries and other funeral-related needs, were fully covered.
“It is important to note that the purpose of this assistance was to alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with the funeral arrangements. It was not intended as compensation or an agreement for further assistance beyond the funeral.”
According to her office, De Beer-Mthombeni did not attend the funeral due to the ongoing investigation.
At that point, the situation surrounding the accident had not been officially cleared, and it was necessary to await further information before making any public appearances or statements. Nevertheless, despite the absence at the funeral, the mayor’s office expressed their condolences and support by providing financial assistance and other forms of aid. While we understand that the family may have expected more direct involvement, please be assured that our intention was to offer assistance during this difficult time.
“We deeply regret any miscommunication or dissatisfaction experienced by the family when attempting to reach out to the mayor’s office. We acknowledge the importance of maintaining open lines of communication and are committed to improving our responsiveness in the future,” said the office.
When asked about De-Beer Mthombeni being at the accident scene, her office said they did not comment on matters currently before the authorities, referring queries to the police.
Police spokesperson Captain Loraine Earle said a case of culpable homicide was registered and under investigation.
“The investigation into allegations that the mayor was driving the vehicle in question is ongoing. The process to obtain statements from all possible witnesses continues. To ensure that all available information is obtained for further investigation, the police seek anyone with such information to call the investigation officer.
“As soon as it is concluded, the docket will be brought to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision,” Earle said.