Murder accused Azwinndini Richard Mamali allegedly hanged himself in the holding cell at the Thohoyandou Police Station a week after he was arrested. Photo supplied.

Vhembe's 'Thabo Bester' dies in prison


Villagers called him “the Thabo Bester of Venda” because of the bizarre circumstances and twist of events that seemed to follow him, but now Azwinndini Richard Mamali is really dead. The man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend at Hamagidi, near Thohoyandou, in September this year and allegedly murdering a man in the Thathe Vondo forest a week later, ensured that his life ended abruptly when he hanged himself in his holding cell just days after he had been arrested and appeared in court.

The details around his death were still sketchy at the time of our going to press, but Limpopo police spokesperson Col Malesela Ledwaba confirmed that police investigations are underway after Mamali had allegedly committed suicide in the holding cells at the Thohoyandou Police Station on Thursday, 28 September, at around 05:00 in the morning.

Mamali (27) had been on the run since the death of Ridodzula Mudzanani (19) on the night of 3 September. Mudzanani and a male friend of hers reportedly encountered Mamali, with whom Mudzanani apparently shared two children. When Mudzanani later screamed that she had been stabbed, Mamali allegedly fled from the scene. A manhunt was launched by the police to try and trace him.

A week after Mudzanani’s murder (8 September), the body of a man was found in the Thathe Vondo forest. He was lying on his stomach, half naked, with acid burns to his body. Both his wrists were cut open, his head was smashed in with rocks, and his buttocks were cut off. The police said that he had also been shot as an empty cartridge and the percussion cap of a pistol had been found at the scene, along with Mamali’s ID, driver’s licence, and other personal items, which had led them to believe that the body was Mamali’s. As investigations continued, however, the deceased individual’s own ID was found inside his pockets, and it became evident that the body did not belong to Mamali after all.

The police had reason to believe that Mamali was also responsible for the brutal killing of the deceased man in the forest, and the search for him continued. He was apprehended at Mahwelereng, Zone 17 in Mokopane in the Waterberg District, on 19 September by members of the Thohoyandou Task Team, after they had received a tip-off that he was hiding out in the area. He appeared in the Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court on 26 September on two counts of murder and was remanded in custody. His next appearance was scheduled for 2 November, but he would not live to see this day.

The provincial police commissioner, Lt Gen Thembi Hadebe, has ordered that a thorough investigation be conducted to determine the circumstances that led to this incident.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) also attended the scene and are probing the case. The IPID’s national spokesperson, Mr Robbie Raburabu, said what they had found was that Mamali had been assisting the police with their investigation at the time, after his appearance in court. He had allegedly hanged himself with a torn blanket. Apparently, nothing foreign was found in the cell when his body was discovered.

Mamali’s distraught mother, Ms Vhengani Mudzanani, was beyond words and asked that the family be given some space in their time of bereavement.



Date:06 October 2023

By: Silas Nduvheni

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