Zandile parks her car and reports to Commander Ncube when she arrives at the police station.
“Let me start by saying I am very happy you decided to join the Elite Task Team, Detective Cele,” says Commander Ncube.
“Thank you for the opportunity, Commander. It is much appreciated.”
“I must stress, however, that the Task Team will do everything by the book, since we will be dealing with high profile cases. Your mind has to be in the right place, Detective Cele. You must sort out your temper. There will be no mistreating of suspects. Are we clear?”
“I will need complete professionalism from you and all members of the team. The hours will be long, the pay will be good. Are you up for it?”
“Good, let me show you your office.”
They make their way to a new building at the back of the police station. Commander Ncube punches a code and swipes his access card through a scanner.
“The Task Team will work from this office. Details on cases we’ll be working on will not leave this room. We’ll also investigate leaking of information and the disappearance of dockets. So, you understand why access is strict,” says Commander Ncube, before he opens the door.
“This is our technology expert, Cynthia Dladla.” Commander Ncube points to a young woman sitting behind computers. He points to equipment on her desk. “This is the latest in cellphone tracking. The system is linked to all vehicle tracking companies. There, we have a lab to process evidence.”
As Zandile sits down at her desk, Gloria stands up to brief them on progress in the case of the Kasi Chef’s missing wife.
“Dumi Zulu, aka Kasi Chef, last saw his wife, Dudu, two days ago, in the morning, when he left to prepare for a charity lunch. She was supposed to attend the lunch but never made it. He got worried when she didn’t arrive, and he could not reach her on her cellphone. He went to the nearest police station. Yesterday he went to the media.”
“We are compiling background checks on her bank accounts and cellphone records,” says Cynthia, the young technology expert. “The wife’s cellphone and tablet are missing, and both last pinged on a tower close to their home on the morning she disappeared. Then both went dead.”
“Can you pinpoint where the devices were exactly, when they last pinged off that tower?” asks Zandile.
“Yes, Detective, with this latest technology we can. It was at their address, their home.”
“Can that info be more specific, like inside the house or in the yard?” asks Zandile.
“That it cannot do. It only provides the address,” says Cynthia. “Why do you ask, Detective?”
“It can tell more about whether things happened, for example, secretly inside, or openly outside in the yard. What about their cars, any tracking devices on them?”
“Yes, the wife’s car has not moved; it has been parked in the garage for the past four days. The husband’s vehicle has moved. It went to the restaurant he owns. Then home, police station, his mother-in-law, hospitals, even morgues.”
“He has certainly been looking for her,” says Gloria.
Zandile looks at Cynthia and says, “Tell me possible scenarios where a cellphone loses a signal that abruptly.”
“When it is switched off, or say, irreparably damaged by water. If we find the phone I can retrieve all her messages and emails.”
“We will get more details from Mr Chef himself. He is coming in to give a statement,” says Gloria.
“Why did he go to the media?” asks Zandile.
“On the phone he said he was desperate to find his wife,” says Gloria. “I also think he has easy access to the media, being in the same field. We will get a chance to hear it from the horse’s mouth because he’ll be here in ten minutes.”
“Maybe his wife needed to get away from it all for a few days,” says Zandile. “How was the relationship? We will need–”
Shrill female screams pierce the air, stopping Zandile as she speaks.
The detectives rush out, hands on their holsters, and find the rest of the staff of the police station outside too.
Most officers have their cellphones out, and are taking photos and videos of the man parking there. Female officers scream like star-struck teens at a boy band concert when the man steps out of his SUV.
Kasi Chef has arrived to give his statement.
Tell us: Are you a huge fan of any local celebrity, such that you would behave like this?