‘Mastermind’ comforted murdered school principal after wife’s death

2014-06-01 15:00

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When murdered KwaZulu-Natal school principal and whistle-blower Nkosinathi Zondi’s wife Ntutu was gunned down in 2010, one of the people who helped console the devastated father of two and his family was former SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Mfundi Sibiya.

On Thursday, Sibiya and five other men appeared in the Umlazi Magistrates’ Court in Durban for allegedly plotting and carrying out Zondi’s murder on May 7 last year – less than two weeks after the Nyonemhlophe Primary School principal was elected as chairperson of sadtu’s Ugu region.

Sibiya, now regional director of the department of education for Ugu, as well as South Coast principals Lungani Mkhize, Xolani Myeza and Mhlengi Luthuli – all Sadtu members – spent about an hour in court on Thursday alongside alleged hit men Andile Zulu and Lungisani Makhoba.

Before the case began, Sibiya and Mkhize shared the public seating with Zondi’s family and his Ugu comrades who had travelled up from Mtwalume for the hearing. But they were not willing to talk about the case.

Two other accused, alleged shooter Ndolile Shezi and go-between and Khathi High School governing body chairperson Sandile Msizi – who police say organised the hit for the R12?000 provided by Mkhize, Myeza and Luthuli at Sibiya’s insistence – have turned state witness.

The six will return to court on June 26 for an indictment to be served, after which the case will be tried in the high court in Durban.

It was the arrest of Sibiya and associates that sparked a City Press investigation into the alleged sale of promotion posts for R30?000 and the manipulation of the system, which in turn has resulted in Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga appointing a ministerial task team to investigate.

Zondi’s younger brother, Simphiwe, who is also a teacher at Mtwalume, told City Press this week of his shock at learning that the men who allegedly set up the hit on his brother were close to him.

“It’s hard thinking the people who are said to have killed my brother were once his comrades and his friends. They used to come to our family home to see him and talk union matters and politics with him. These are people who ate in our home,” he said.

“When my brother’s wife was murdered, it was Mfundi who stayed with him, who came to our home, who supported us. This is very hard for us to deal with. We’re still traumatised by it.

“The people who are said to have killed him are living in this same community where we live. We see them walking around. It is very hard and we are also concerned that when they see us, they see their enemy.”

Zondi (46), who had taught at Umlazi’s Vukuzakhe High School and at Mid-Illovo before returning to Mtwalume as a principal three years ago, had, in the days before his death, been concerned about his safety.

“Yes, my brother was worried about his security. He had been receiving threatening calls at night by people calling from private numbers. During the union campaign, Sadtu people were canvassing using WhatsApp messages threatening him and saying bad things about him,” he said.

Simphiwe believes the threats were a response from the Sadtu racketeers to his brother’s aim to clean up corruption.

Zondi, he said, was a straight shooter who was “not afraid to speak his mind if he saw that something was wrong in the organisation”.

“My brother was very against fraud and corruption and he wanted the truth. He was a very brave person. I think they were scared he was going to expose corruption.

“His killing happened nine days after he was elected and others were aggrieved that he was elected,” said Simphiwe.

According to Simphiwe, Zondi, the eldest of 11 siblings, had been “devastated” when his wife Ntutu, also a teacher, was shot dead in 2010. Two hit men have been jailed for the killing, but the family still don’t know what was behind the murder.

“We are battling to understand how this happened,” he said

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