Attaining five life sentences and having solved 20 serious and violent crimes in a career spanning a mere eight years is no mean feat for anyone in the SAPS. However, for detective, constable Vivian Gafane it is all in a days work as she continues to hunt down criminals and bring them to book with the same passion she has displayed since first joining the service.
Gafane, a humble 37-year-old, thrives in a male-dominated environment and would not hesitate to step into a man’s shoes any time when it comes to serving her country.
She recalls her childhood in the small village of Ga-Kgosi Mothapo in Nobody outside Mankweng as difficult, especially after losing her father at the age of ten. “I can remember that there was a lot of crime in our area. Part of me wanted to become a social worker to be able to assist families who were in the same boat as us, but deep inside my greatest dream was to become a Police officer,” Gafane explained.
Her dream became true in 2010 at Mankweng Police Station where, having completed her one year basic training in Graaff-Reinet, she was deployed as student trainee until January 2012.
Her passion for and dedication to her work ensured her deployment to the Groblersdal Cluster Task Team. Here she immediately proved her grit when she cracked a serial rapist case in the area within a week. “I cannot remember the details of the case but it was about a man who raped and killed several women. He also cut off one hand from each of his victims after killing them,” she said.
Her success in this case immediately caught the attention of provincial Police management who then decided that her skills and dedication could be beneficial within the Provincial Investigation Unit.
A definite highlight was securing a consolidated 359 years jail term for David Mamvura, known as the hammer monster, earlier this year. “It was a difficult case but when I managed to get all the victims, except for two, to testify against him in court, things started to run smoothly. If it wasn’t for one of his victims, an elderly lady who he raped in Marshall Street and who gave a detailed description and some valuable information about her attacker, we might not have been able to make an arrest so soon,” she said.
Another case where Gafane showed superb skill and passion was with the man dubbed the Univen serial killer, Ndivhuwo Ntsieni, who was sentenced to nine times life imprisonment and a further 15 years in 2016.
He was found guilty on five counts of murder, four of rape and two of robbery. The conviction stems from incidents in 2014 in the vicinity of the University of Venda campus and the Golgotha residential area.
“Working in a male-dominated environment was at first difficult, especially when dealing with dangerous criminals but I had to adjust quickly because I hate criminality. I have a firm belief that as a human being I am capable of doing anything my male counterparts are doing,” she said.
With this in mind her dream is to become section or unit commander where she will be able to share her skills with colleagues for the sake of efficient and effective service delivery to all communities.
She indicated that the best part of being a Police officer is to follow up information and to trace a suspect. “I am well aware of the dangers and think about it every morning when I leave home that I might not return that afternoon, but through prayer I know I will be kept safe every day,” she said.
In her opinion crime is very high in some areas but law enforcers and communities everywhere should stand together in the fight against all forms of criminality.
Story: RC Myburgh