THE family of Zimbabwean gynaecologist Dr Tham Matinde, who was found dead at his Cape Town home in South Africa, in July last year, has expressed concern over the slow pace of police investigations into his death.
The case has generated debate over the slow pace at which South African police investigate cases of murder of foreigners in that country, and the improper conduct of South African pathologists.
In October last year, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Jonathan Moyo also expressed concern over shoddy investigations following the death of his daughter, Zanele, who was found dead in her Cape Town apartment.
Former Radio Three DJ John Matinde told The Southern Times last week that his family was now wondering why South African police were taking time to investigate the death of his brother, Tham, and bring the killers to book despite assurances that the matter would be investigated timeously.
When asked whether the case had been finalised, Mr Matinde said: “Not yet. Far from it. We have not received any response from police on how far the investigations are.
“No one has been arrested so far. Not yet. Not that we’ve been advised by Milnerton Police, Cape Town, on this crime that happened on 19 July 2015, just over six months ago.”
Dr Matinde, a prominent gynaecologist working in the Western Cape, was found dead at his Sunset Beach Property (7 Cowrie Crescent), Cape Town.
The discovery was made by his long-time girlfriend, Thandi Juliet Mabena, in the early hours of July 19.
Events surrounding the death of Dr Tham have been mired in controversy with the family disputing Ms Mabena’s narration.
When news about the tragic death of the gynaecologist broke out, mourners, friends and relatives were advised that he had died from a chest infection for which he was undergoing treatment.
According to reports, there was much consternation and uproar as other family members had already been advised that he had been found stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife.
Information that emerged soon after Dr Tham was found dead suggested he had two stab wounds but when asked for an explanation by the relatives, Ms Mabena is reported to have claimed it was a suicide.
Conflicting details surrounding the death of Dr Tham led to a major fallout with Ms Mabena trying to rush the repatriation process of the deceased (to Harare) which she finally achieved within one week.
Relatives questioned why she was in such a rush to do so.
The media reported that the emergence of an erratic handwritten death certificate which was later rejected by Zimbabwean authorities also raised suspicion. When asked what was delaying the inquest, Mr Matinde said: “Our lawyer’s efforts to find out the current state of play have thus far been unable to specifically find out why, except to say investigations are still under way, the autopsy pronunciation had yet to be made by the (South African) state.
“We already had our private pathologist report commissioned on same the week of death. I shall comment at the right time about this as commenting now might interfere with police investigations.” The Matinde family launched a private autopsy after being upset by the pace of investigations.
“We await an official autopsy pronunciation to see if that tallies with our private one, in which case swift progress can hopefully proceed,” said the former Radio Three broadcaster. The police investigation is not the only one under way. There are parallel third party investigations both to do with the case, and circumstances surrounding what has happened since.”
Ms Mabena is said to have told the Matinde family that she was the one who discovered the body with stab wounds but denies ever hearing any groaning sounds or any other disturbances during the night. Mr Matinde said Ms Mabena has not been of much help to the investigations and vowed to continue pursuing the matter.
“We are hoping the police will finalise their investigations sooner so the family and Thandi can have closure on what really happened.”
Ms Mabena refused to comment on the matter.
“I am not sure what to say to you other than that I am distraught with grief and have no comments for you,” she said in an emailed response. “My husband was a very private person and I would like to respect that by not taking this painful loss to the media. I kindly request that you respect that too.”