In the interrogation room, Detective Xuma was sitting down, observing the distressed Nosiphiwo. Deep down in his heart, Detective Xuma was confident that he was looking at a killer, or at least accomplice. She was sitting on a chair opposite him and they were separated by a desk that had dry coffee stains on it.
There was something about Nosiphiwo’s mourning that didn’t sit well with him. She sobbed after he had asked her how she was holding up, the day she found out about her husband’s death. But since then, when he had asked her neighbours whether any of them had seen anything, there was one thing that most of them kept saying: “Nosiphiwo doesn’t act like someone who’s just lost a husband.”
In the leave she was given from work to mourn the death of her husband, she played music loudly and spoke with her neighbours cheerfully. When they talked about her husband’s passing she would tell them, ‘Bad things happen but the most important thing is to be strong and move on.’ And now there she was, sobbing.
“I would like to ask you a few questions, Mrs Khombisa. Where were you on the day of Mr Khombisa’s murder?” Detective Xuma had a notepad in front of him on the desk.
“What? Am I a suspect now?” she asked.
“This is just a formality. I have to ask these questions in order to rule you out,” he assured her.
“I was at my friend’s house in Mfuleni. I can give you her contacts to confirm.” She wrote Sinovuyo’s name and address on a piece of paper and gave it to Detective Xuma. “And then I went out for a couple of drinks with friends.”
“Do you know anyone who may have wanted your husband dead?”
“No. Wasn’t it a robbery gone wrong, kanti?” she asked.
“We found a key that the killer used to gain access to your house. Where is your house key Mrs Khombisa?”
“It’s on my car keys.” She got them out and showed him.
“So you haven’t seen this key before?” He held up the Yale key.
“No,” she said and shook her head.
“Because it fits your front door.”
She looked down at the table and shrugged. “Maybe my husband had a spare made.”
“Well, thank you for your time Mrs Khombisa. I will be in touch. Meanwhile, please don’t leave the city.”
“I won’t, Detective,” she said, shook his hand and left.
Detective Xuma decided his next step was to check out Nosiphiwo’s alibi.
* * * * *
Sinovuyo had just come back from work. Vuyo, her husband, was working a night shift. He was still a receptionist at the university and, to Sinovuyo’s embarrassment, he seemed to love his job. He would even discuss it when they were having lunch with her corporate friends sometimes.
She was peeling potatoes in the kitchen when she heard a knock on the door. “Ngena!” she said and went to the sitting room to see who it was.
A man came in and flashed a police badge. “Evening, ma’am, I’m Detective Sizwe Xuma. I am investigating the murder of Bulelani Khombisa.”
“I’m Sinovuyo Xhora,” she said, sounding confused.
“Then I am in the right house. Do you mind if I sit down?” he asked, looking at the leather sofas.
“Yes, yes, you may. How can I be of help to you, Detective?” she asked, as she sat down.
“Do you know Bulelani Khombisa?”
“Yes.” A shadow passed across her face. “It was terrible what happened. I mean, he was still young and had a whole future ahead of him. A determined man I tell you, a man who knew what he wanted.”
She could not disguise the emotion in her voice. And it didn’t go unnoticed by the detective. “So you knew him quite well,” he observed.
“He was … Nosiphiwo’s husband. We were friends at varsity. Buja had quite the reputation … then he got Nosiphiwo pregnant. Their parents forced them to marry. Can you believe it? And the child didn’t make it, after all that.”
“What can you tell me about your friendship with Nosiphiwo?” Detective Xuma asked, noticing a scratch that appeared to be fresh on Sinovuyo’s forehead.
“We … we were okay.”
“Then what were you two fighting about a few days’ back?” he asked. She looked up, startled. “Nosiphiwo said she came to your house. She said you fought.”
It was a good guess, by the look on Sino’s face. She was caught off guard and couldn’t hide the truth.
“I hadn’t seen her for years and then she came here accusing me of sleeping with her husband. She went crazy! I couldn’t talk any sense into her. She scratched my face.”
“And was she right? Were you sleeping with her husband?”
“Since you will probably find out anyway, yes I was. Bulelani and I were in love. Not at first. But … we were both unhappily married if you want the truth.”
The detective stood up. “Thank you for your time. I will be in contact. Please don’t leave the vicinity Mrs Xhora.”
The door opened before Sinovuyo could answer. A man came in and walked over and kissed Sinovuyo on the cheek.
“Hey babe, this is Detective Xuma. He is investigating Buj … Bulelani’s death,” Sinovuyo said, looking uncomfortable.
“Well, I hope you apprehend the person who has committed this crime, Detective,” Vuyo said. “It was a terrible thing. We are all upset by it.”
“I will Mr Xhora. I will get to the bottom of it. Believe me.”
As he was leaving, Detective Xuma noticed a blue VW Golf parked behind his car on the pavement. He paused, thought for a second.
Getting a fingerprinting kit from his car, he returned to the Xhora’s front door. “Sorry to bother again,” he said when Vuyo answered. “But while I’m here can I just take both your fingerprints. Routine stuff, for the investigation.”
Tell us: At this stage, who do you think killed Bulelani?