The Western Cape police have allegedly been ordered to further investigate circumstances leading to the death of Anele “Nelli” Tembe after they had reportedly finalised the first inquest in May.
Three months after Tembe fell to her death from a tenth-floor room in the Pepperclub Hotel in Cape Town, it has emerged that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has referred the docket back to the police for further investigation.
City Press understands that the police had concluded their investigation on May 25 and forwarded it to the office of the public prosecutor, but they were requested to investigate once again following alleged deficiencies that were identified.
When approached for comment, Western Cape police spokesperson Joseph Swartbooi only said that investigations into the matter were ongoing: “Kindly be advised that an inquest docket was registered for further investigation. The investigation into the matter continues.”
The NPA then reverted and said this was a suicide investigation and what [the police] had provided had elements [of there being] a suspect of murder
City Press has learnt that central to the decision to refer the docket back for further investigation was an interview that rapper Kiernan “AKA” Forbes gave on May 22, when he detailed incidents of self-harm and prior suicide attempts by Tembe, including one at a hotel in Durban last year.
Two sources close to the investigation claimed that the interview was crucial in the finalisation of the initial inquest, but said that its contents had led to the NPA requesting a second investigation.
According to NPA sources, the authority referred the docket back because the police approached the matter as if there was a murder suspect and did not follow the standard procedure in an inquest investigation.
“After the interview, the matter was closed by the SA Police Service and handed over to the NPA for review. The NPA then reverted and said this was a suicide investigation and what [the police] had provided had elements [of there being] a suspect of murder,” the source said.
The mole said the NPA identified elements in the first investigation that showed that the police investigated AKA as a suspect in Tembe’s death and not as an inquest to identify causes leading to a suicide inquest.
“The NPA said to [the police that it] identified a suspect and did not investigate as per how an inquest happens. To find out who the person was, how did they die. [The police] focused too much on elements that have nothing to do with who [Tembe] was,” the source added.
In the interview with reporter Thembekile Mrototo, Forbes detailed incidents that suggested that Tembe was suicidal and had on numerous times attempted to harm herself. He spoke at length about an incident that occurred in Durban last year, when she attempted to jump from the top floor of the Hilton hotel and was calmed by her cousin before being taken to hospital, as well as another incident where she attempted to jump out of a moving car after they had a fight, which was recorded in a video that circulated on social media.
Forbes also revealed that his late fiancée often threated to harm herself.
“She had done that here in this home and over the phone … She had also threatened to drive her car into the wall,” he said.
The source alleged these revelations were key matters that made the NPA return the docket to the police for a second look.
“They had to seek statements of what happened in Durban, what happened when she tried to jump out of the car, what was happening with the various videos where Kiernan was saying that she trashed his car,” the source said.
Last month, Forbes’ lawyers were allegedly requested to provide a follow-up statement detailing the violent incidents that occurred in which Tembe allegedly attacked the rapper.
“The following is required from your client. According to his initial statement, the deceased has a history of attempting suicide and he lists a few incidents. The NPA requires comprehensive statements in regard to these incidents.
“The particulars of the owner of the property he resides in, the particulars of the security guard he mentions in his statement. If he could please provide video footage, photographs and audio recordings in his possession in regard to assault inflicted or directed at him by the deceased as indicated,” reads part of the email sent to the lawyers.
Three cases of assault that were opened by Tembe and Forbes at the Randburg and Douglasdale police stations against each other also form part of further investigations.
The source alluded to Forbes’ interview having led to a premature conclusion of the first inquest.
Tembe’s father, Moses Tembe, was allegedly also asked for additional information to augment his initial statement.
He did not reply to text messages sent to him by the time of going to print.
NPA Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “The matter concerning the deceased was referred to the office of the Western Cape director of public prosecutions.
“The docket was subsequently returned to the police for further investigation. [However], the NPA did not return the docket due to certain loopholes; further investigation was requested as is standard for all matters where the deceased dies of unnatural causes. The matter is still under investigation by the police and is receiving the required attention.”