Rosemary’s Hitlist: Rosemary’s deadliest shockers

By Gen Terblanche6 July 2023

Rosemary’s Hitlist: Rosemary’s deadliest shockers

Are you sitting comfortably? Are you in good health? Aaaare you sure? Because we have a show for you – Showmax Original series Rosemary’s Hitlist is the true-crime tale of South African serial killer cop, Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu.  

Rosemary claimed six known victims (but wait, there’s more) and R1 391 263.24 in insurance benefits from the policies she had taken out on them. She hired hitmen to kill the officer investigating her case, Detective Sergeant Keshi Mabunda, along with her station commander, Colonel Nthipe Boloka. And she targeted her own lover, mother, sisters, nieces and nephews – down to the newborn babies. Rosemary Ndlovu might even have murdered her own children. Then she danced in court and sang about her arrest.  

Watch the trailer for Rosemary’s Hitlist

Showmax Original series Rosemary’s Hitlist is prescription-strength TV. Eight out of 10 actors in white coats recommend that you take out a policy or two yourself before viewing. The effects of her sheer, undiluted audacity are instant, and shocking. Forget cosmetic surgery, watch Rosemary. Your eyebrows will hit new highs on your forehead.  

Here are five moments from each episode (and, okay, a couple of extras) that made us gasp out loud and start looking for an insurance broker. But there are loads of spoilers, so watch Rosemary’s Hitlist on Showmax before reading.

Episode 1  of Rosemary’s Hitlist

Sergeant Keshi Mabunda in Rosemary's Hitlist
Sergeant Keshi Mabunda
  1. Rosemary’s lover and baby daddy Maurice Mabasa was found dead in a field near Olifantsfontein police station on 15 October 2015. He’d been tortured, beaten, stabbed 76 times, and some of his teeth were missing. Rosemary arrived at Olifantsfontein police station wailing that her husband was dead … before police had even identified the body, and before she had seen the body. Then she fake-fainted at the scene while carrying their baby daughter in her arms. 
  2. Just a month earlier, in September 2015, Rosemary’s house caught on fire. Maurice was asleep when the house filled with smoke and he ran outside, naked. Bottles filled with petrol were found under the couple’s bed. But where was Rosemary? She was away, and she had conveniently taken the baby and essential paperwork, including the baby’s birth certificate, with her.  
  3. The insurance policy that Rosemary wanted to claim after Maurice’s death had blatantly fraudulent paperwork. Maurice was a chauffeur for the American Embassy. But on the policy, in the occupation line, SAPS was crossed out, and someone (guess who) had struggled to spell chauffeur, failed, and written driver instead.  
  4. It was one of 16 insurance policies that Rosemary had taken out on Maurice. Police determined that Rosemary had got a hitman to pretend to be Maurice when an insurance agent on one policy carried out an in-person visit.  
  5. After Maurice’s funeral a family member saw Rosemary kick her baby daughter Makhanani so hard that the six-month-old child flew across the floor and hit the wall.  

Episode 2 

Colonel Nthipe L. Boloka in Rosemary's Hitlist
Colonel Nthipe L Boloka
  1. In September 2011 Rosemary urged her mother’s sister, who made less than R150 a week, to take out a funeral policy on her son, Witness Mdala Homu. On 30 March 2012, Witness went missing. Rosemary took a cousin directly to Olifantsfontein police station to find Witness, not stopping to check where he was staying or anywhere else. She told cops she was a relative of the deceased. Witness had not been reported missing, nor had his body been identified at that point. Nobody knew he was dead. 
  2. Rosemary had taken out multiple policies on Witness, even claiming him as a spouse on one of them. She raked in over R137 000 from his death … and contributed just R200 to his family for his funeral. Witness got a pauper’s burial. 
  3. In June 2013, Rosemary visited her older sister Audrey, then left and came back and called the neighbours over to go into the house with her. She started crying and wailing as she entered, before anybody even saw the body. Audrey was found in her bedroom, dead from a corrosive poison and strangulation. As the neighbours were taking in the scene, Rosemary washed the teacups, and only the teacups.  
  4. Rosemary left baby Makhanani with Maurice’s mother, Mary, after his funeral. By the time she came back, Makhanani didn’t recognise her. Shortly after Rosemary took Makhanani back, Maurice’s sister got a call from the hospital to tell her that Makhanani had died. Rosemary did not invite the family to the burial or tell them where the grave was.  
  5. Rosemary’s gambling addiction was so bad that she’d skip work at the end of the month because mashonisas (loan sharks) were after her. In 2017, Station Commander Colonel Nthipe Boloka had 15 mashonisas in his office wanting to beat up Rosemary. She collectively owed them over R200 000. 
  6. Rosemary offered to help her niece, Zanele Motha, with student loan paperwork. While visiting Rosemary, Zanele was hospitalised after surviving a vicious attack. Rosemary later took her out of hospital and left her at home, confiscating her cellphone. Two days later, Rosemary took Zanele to a different hospital, where she died on arrival from internal injuries that weren’t on her original patient chart. Rosemary told Zanele’s boyfriend that she was dead via text message and collected over R119 000 in funeral insurance. 

Episode 3 

Colonel Nthipe L. Boloka in Rosemary's Hitlist
Colonel Nthipe L. Boloka
  1. In April 2017, Zanele’s brother William Moyeni Mashaba was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds to the head after talking privately with Rosemary. He still had his cellphone and money. Phone records showed that Rosemary was his last contact, and her records traced her to the scene of his death in Rietvlei.  
  2. Rosemary struck again, luring Brilliant Mashego, the son of her sister Audrey – who she’d killed earlier – to Johannesburg with a job opportunity. A witness saw Brilliant looking sick while he was with Rosemary, and scolded her for not looking after him. Just after midnight that same day, Brilliant was found beaten to death in Bushbuckridge. Rosemary didn’t join the family at home before the funeral, but she put on a performance of grief near the grave, then left early. 
  3. When fellow officer Nomsa Mudau confided in Rosemary that she was having trouble with her husband Justice Mudau, Rosemary gave her the contact details for her hitmen. Nomsa offered them R150 000 to kill her husband. But when Justice kept dodging death, the hitmen went to a sangoma who told them that Justice’s spirit was too strong and he would haunt them. Already terrified by dreams about Justice strangling them, the hitmen visited Justice in person to warn him that his wife had placed a price on his head.  
  4. Rosemary sent hitmen to kill her own mother, Mrs Maria Mushwana, but they refused, claiming that she was too old. Rosemary then demanded that the hitmen kill her sister, Joyce, along with her children. Again, the hitmen refused because when they visited Joyce’s village, she had only just given birth three days before and they didn’t know who would take care of the baby. Five months later, when Rosemary sent them to kill Joyce again, the hitmen went to the police.  
  5. The hitmen demanded a meeting with Colonel Nthipe Boloka at Ehlanzeni Hostel, and he went alone, not knowing if he was going to his death. Instead, SAPS had to put full-blown inkabi (hitmen) into witness protection. And that’s when Justice Mudau arrived at Tembisa South police station to tell his bizarre story. He was also placed in witness protection while Special Intelligence set up a sting to take down Rosemary. 
  6. Police footage captured on a spy camera inside the hitmen’s car showed Rosemary calmly telling the hitmen (and one undercover cop) how she’d laid the groundwork for them to murder her sister Joyce and all five of her children by dosing them with “flu medicine”. She instructed them how she wanted them all killed, and casually chatted about how little real investigation is done into house fires.  
  7. Rosemary was arrested at a taxi rank at Bushbuckridge while trying to sneak back to Johannesburg, where she had booked herself into a mental health clinic as an alibi. The police took her to Joyce’s house so that Joyce could confirm her identity. And one cop told Joyce and her children exactly what Rosemary had planned for her, sparing them nothing. Later Joyce’s mother asked her why she helped the police and blamed her for Rosemary’s arrest.  

Episode 4 

Joyce Ndlovu in Rosemary's Hitlist
Joyce Ndlovu
  1. While she was in jail, Rosemary arranged a hit on her station commander, Nthipe Boloka, as well as the investigating officer, Sergeant Keshi Mabunda. Bu she contacted the very same hitmen who had alerted Mabunda and Boloka to her activities! Colonel Boloka and Mabunda choked up on camera as they described the constant fear they lived in, because every day, Rosemary was found with new phones in her prison cell.  
  2. When the trial began on 21 July 2021, Rosemary immediately tried to turn it into a circus. Footage showed her performing a sarcastic dance in court as she sang, “Breaking news, breaking news, ex-police officer Nomia Rosemary Ndlovu appeared in Palm Ridge Court, what-what. Thug! Thug! Thug! Hey!” She flashed her backside at the court, and she flirted with photographers and posed for them with her mouth tucked to the side like a sassy teenager.  
  3. Out of the immediate Ndlovu family only Joyce was willing to testify against Rosemary, despite 14 different insurance companies revealing that Rosemary had taken out 28 policies against family members – including her mother, Mary, and brother, Director Ndlovu – that were under investigation.  
  4. Reporter Everson Luhanga, who’d been investigating Rosemary from the day that Maurice died, took a chance and followed her and the investigating officer out of the courtroom one day. When one door on their way wouldn’t unlock, the officer left him alone with Rosemary while he ran to fetch a key. Everson described it as the longest, most terrifying three minutes of silence in his life.  
  5. Rosemary’s sentencing comes only halfway through the episode because two deaths didn’t come up at trial: those of Rosemary’s first husband, Hand Khoza, and their 13-year-old son, Jaunty. Hand’s brother and sister, Josephine Khoza and Rodgers Khoza, revealed an eerily similar pattern of events. Hand fell ill and died in hospital in 2004 after Rosemary visited and took away his cellphone. She left Jaunty in their care until she asked for all his details for “school paperwork”. Then Jaunty was sent to her in Johannesburg. Siphiwe Khoza, Hand’s niece, reveals that Rosemary phoned her to say that Januty was in hospital having taken a “slow poison”. When he was well enough to be discharged, Rosemary took him home. The next day, 14 July, 2008, he was dead. Josephine arranged Jaunty’s funeral using her mother’s pension money. As for Rosemary, she collected R12 100 that Hand had left Jaunty before his own death. 

But what’s your most shocking moment? Binge Rosemary’s Hitlist and join the conversation on social media: #RosemarysHitlist 

The Rosemary’s Hitlist Podcast 

Showmax has partnered with True Crime South Africa podcast co-hosts Mfundo Ndala and Nicole Engelbrecht to bring you a four-part companion podcast that explores the themes and topics explored in the documentary.  

Listen to the trailer for the Rosemary’s Hitlist companion podcast here: 

More homegrown documentaries to stream online »