On Thursday afternoon, Rosemary Ndlovu stood up in front of the court to submit her plea at the Palmridge High Court.
She held a calm exterior, but the trial had already been delayed because she had gotten sick with stress.
She is standing trial for the murders of members of her own family, and cashing in on their funeral and life insurance policies.
“Not guilty,” she told the judge. But if the court thinks otherwise, she will go down in history as one of South Africa’s most meticulous and cunning mass murderers.
Rosemary joined the police force over 15 years ago. Investigators say that after seven years, in April 2012, she began a highly lucrative killing spree, beginning with her cousin, Madaka.
Over the next six years, she is alleged to have killed her sister Audrey, her nephew Brilliant, her niece Zanele, and her boyfriend, Maurice Mabasa, in exchange for 28 insurance payouts totalling R1,38 million.
She is also accused of several counts attempted murder and conspiracy to murder. She allegedly hired hitmen to kill two of her sisters, her own mother and the police detectives who were investigating her.
The police officer who first caught scent of Ndlovu’s alleged crimes was in fact her own commander at Tembisa South police station, Colonel Nthipe Boloka.
In 2018, a police informant approached Colonel Boloka, and told him that Ndlovu had asked him to carry out a hit on her mother, as well as her sister, Joyce, and Joyce’s four children and her baby.
Colonel Boloka passed on the information to the Gauteng provincial crime-intelligence unit. And that’s when the plan to trap Rosemary was born.
At 3am on 7 March 2018, five police officers met up with two of the informants posing as hitmen at a shopping mall in Ekurhuleni.
The informants have arranged to meet with Rosemary so she can show them Joyce’s house, which she wants them to burn down.
The police fitted a secret dashboard camera into the hitmen’s car, and planted one undercover officer to pose as another hitman.
The group then picks up Ndlovu at the Carstenhof Hospital. She has checked in there to give herself an alibi. She plans to go with the hitmen to point out her sister’s house, and then get back to hospital again by the time the killings take place.
Unaware of the recording device, she begins discussing the conspiracy to murder her close relatives with the hitmen, while two cop cars follow discreetly behind.
When she was arrested, Ndlovu was said to be shocked at first, then reverted to her naturally calm disposition. She denied the charges, and has maintained her innocence ever since.