Five years for justice – and a bullet to the head ends it all

2014-10-05 06:00

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Alfred Ngwenya was meant to testify this week against two men he accused of assaulting and shooting him in a racially?motivated attack five years ago.

Instead, the 44-year-old was shot again just ten days before taking the stand – this time fatally.

Ngwenya was shot dead in the street in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga.

Eyewitnesses saw two bakkies speeding off after he was shot in the back of the head. They have told police a white man was responsible for the shooting. No one has been arrested or charged.

Ngwenya died ten days before he was due to testify against Berthold Eggers (61) and Heinz Paul (34) in the Vryheid High Court.

The pair has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and possessing unlicenced firearms and ammunition.

Eggers and Paul allegedly kidnapped Ngwenya and three other complainants – Percy Makhubu, Sicelo Dlamini and Mphila Dube – in Piet Retief in 2009 after accusing them of stealing a truck load of logs from a forest.

It later turned out that the four had bought the logs.

Eggers and Paul are accused by the State of shooting the men and driving 200 kilometres to Groenvlei, near Vryheid, to dump them.

During this incident, Ngwenya was shot twice in the arm.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Captain Thulani Zwane, said the two men face eight counts of attempted murder, four counts of kidnapping and a count of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

No link has been made between the two cases, but some residents and Ngwenya’s relatives are not so sure.

The community has given police an ultimatum to arrest Ngwenya’s killers by today.

One resident, Robert Kubheka, said there will be a march to the police station this week.

“There are many cases where whites killed black people, but they were never arrested in this town.

Even in the other case that’s in court, Ngwenya tried in vain to open a case in Piet Retief and they were assisted when they went to KwaZulu-Natal,” Kubheka said.

“There’ll be a big problem if [a suspect] is not arrested before the community meets [today] to plan the march,” he added.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said the case has been taken from Piet Retief police to be investigated by the province, but not because of the accusations of bias against local police.

“We elevated this case to the province because it is a very serious and sensitive matter and witnesses can come forward without any fear. If the suspect is known, he is going to be arrested. We know about the allegations of racism particularly that involve cases against white farmers, but on this one, we can’t say it’s a racial issue,”

Mohlala said.

The SA Communist Party and farm workers’ rights NGO, Insika Yesizwe, marched to the local court two years ago to highlight the problem of the justice department allegedly not taking crimes by white farmers seriously.

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