Free State Head of Organised Crime Brigadier Jackson Mkhaulesi died on Monday, 5 June. According to a newspaper report, it occurred soon after he scored his first victory in the Thabo Bester escape case when the Bloemfontein High Court dismissed Dr Nandipha Magudumana’s urgent application to have her arrest declared unlawful.
Death of Bester Lead Detective Sparks Investigation and Speculation
The South African Police Service (SAPS) said Mkhaulesi was one of the senior investigators in the Bester matter.
“Circumstances surrounding the senior officer’s death, who is also the Provincial Head responsible for Organised Crime in the Free State province, remains the subject of a police investigation,” said National Police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe.
Widespread reports allege Mkhauseli died by his own hand. According to The Sowetan, Mkhauseli was the lead investigator in the case. He was found dead in a suspected suicide hours after he was in court for Magudumana’s appearance.
IOL journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika reported that the shooting incident took place at the corner of Rhodes Avenue and Harvey Road in Bloemfontein.
UNLIKELY THAT THE CASE WOULD BE AFFECTED
The police have not confirmed reports that Mkhauseli died by suicide. Lebohang Helepi, the SA Police Union (SAPU) secretary in the Free State, told The Sowetan that if Mkhauseli was murdered, it should be treated as a case of treason by the police.
The police union representative commiserated over the death of a seasoned investigator. However, he said it was highly unlikely that Mkhaulesi’s passing would affect the case because, according to SAPS protocol, investigators do not work on the case file alone.
As previously reported, National police commissioner General Fannie Masemola said Mkhaulesi was a hard-working, loyal and dedicated detective with 31 years in the police service.
“Over the years, he has proven himself to be a highly skilled detective with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the detective environment. His departure leaves a void in the SAPS detective environment.”
Thabo Bester and his co-accused are due back in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 25 June. Magudumana intends to appeal the dismissal of her urgent application. She is yet to apply for bail.