Five years after he was found handcuffed and hanged, dead man’s mum demands answers
It is five years since her son’s lifeless body was found hanging from a tree, his hands handcuffed tightly behind his back.
On 19 September 2018, a day before his corpse was discovered, Mosimanegape Disco Zolo escaped from the back of a moving police van and fled into the bush.
The 37-year-old was not seen alive again; his final moments remain a mystery.
It is a mystery his mother, Kedibonye Zolo, 57, is determined to unravel.
Attending an inquest into the matter last week, the distressed Molepolole woman was quick to point an accusing finger at the family of her son’s ex-girlfriend.
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Zolo revealed the last time she saw her son, he was being bundled into the back of an open police van, accused of raping his on/off lover.
In a revelation that caused Molepolole Principal Magistrate, Solomon Setshedi to shake his head in astonishment, it emerged the victim and her brother were also piled into the vehicle to sit beside Disco.
Too upset to check on her son at the morgue, Zolo said she was informed by relatives that his body still had several ropes tied around it.
He was also wearing his favourite jacket, something the Bokaa ward native could not understand.
“I had locked his house after the police arrested him and his jacket was not inside the house. He was handcuffed wearing a sweater, even the police were shocked to see the jacket he was found wearing. Most of the time it was at his girlfriend’s place, he was sharing it with her brother,” said Zolo, pointing out the brother, who was sat in the gallery but cannot be named to protect his sister’s identity.
“I am asking myself where the jacket and the ropes came from? I suspect the person who hanged him is the one who came with the jacket. Where was the jacket coming from?”she demanded, becoming increasingly upset with each passing word.
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Taking to the stand for the police, Constable Molatlhegi Monjwa, 40, explained on the night of Disco’s arrest, he was assigned as a section driver and given a Toyota Land Cruiser without a canopy.
At around 9pm, he was about to leave to attend a different matter, when a man arrived at the station in a breathless state, claiming his sister had been forcibly taken by her ex-boyfriend, who was threatening to kill her if she resisted.
They rushed to the scene but their knocks went unanswered.
Fearing the worst, Constable Monjwa said he opened a window and saw a young woman kneeling down near the bed crying.
“I also saw the suspect, who later opened the door. The lady told us that the deceased raped her without using a condom. She said she was quiet and didn’t open for us because the deceased threatened to stab her. Immediately, I handcuffed the suspect based on the allegations of rape,” said the cop, who confirmed the trio – brother, sister and Disco – were bundled into the back of the van together.
According to Monjwa, as they were approaching the main road, the suspect jumped from the truck and, although his colleague, Special Constable, Joseph Motswainyana and the brother gave chase, it was too late. Disco had vanished into the dark.
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Back-up was promptly called but the search team, consisting of roughly 16 police officers, could find no sign of the missing man.
Monjwa said it was not till later the next day when he was informed that the suspect had been found swinging from a tree on a hill top along the Molepolole/Thamaga road, less than 5km from his home.
When questioned by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) prosecutor, Mabedi Ramontsho, if it was possible for someone to hang himself when handcuffed from behind, Constable Monjwa reluctantly admitted it was not.
The policeman did, however, tell the inquest he had seen flexible suspects being able to move their hands to the front.
Demonstrating how this was possible, he joined his hands together behind his back, before wriggling down low and hoping over them, so that his hands were now in front of him!
Meanwhile, when the Magistrate enquired why he had not assigned Special Constable, Motswainyana to sit at the back with the suspect and complainants, Monjwa maintained he had.
“He went and instructed those at the back how they should sit. When I started the vehicle, Motswainyana came to the front seat, leaving the suspect with others and we proceeded,” said Monjwa.
Visibly nervous, for his part Motswainyana confirmed this was true, adding he had been about to go and sit at the back seconds before Disco escaped.
He further told the Magistrate it was his first time to arrest and transport a suspect in an open vehicle.