Speaker’s demotion back on agenda following murder-trial twist

2012-10-04 14:17

The ANC’s Mpumalanga executive committee will put the demotion of Ehlanzeni district council speaker Milton Morema back on the agenda.

The party decided to recall Morema last month after Mudi Khoza, who is accused of the murder of council chief whip Johan Ndlovu, alleged in an affidavit that Morema had been part of the plot.

The Nelspruit circuit court accepted Khoza’s affidavit in June during the ongoing murder trial.

Khoza said that tavern owner Velaphi Ndlovu – who was the middleman to Morema and ward councillor Douglas Mboweni – promised him and Bongani Mkasi R10 000 each and government tenders for the hit.

Khoza, however, changed his evidence last week, and said police had coerced him into making the statement.

Ndlovu was shot dead in Bushbuckridge on January 5 last year in what is believed to be one of three cases of political assassination in Mpumalanga.

He and Morema were contenders for the Ehlanzeni mayorship after the municipal election last May.

The ANC in the Bohlabela region recommended to the provincial executive committee (PEC) that Morema be removed as council speaker since it was the second time he had been implicated in murder. The PEC obliged.

Provincial ANC secretary Lucky Ndinisa said the PEC would discuss the matter again.

“The PEC took the decision (to demote Morema) on the basis of allegations that were made in a court of law. Under no circumstances would the ANC discuss this matter if it was not brought before court,” Ndinisa said.

“The PEC will apply its mind in light of the new evidence, but I cannot say we’ll reverse our decision or not,” he added.

Morema said that he was considering what action to take following the latest developments.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Medupe Simasiku said the court was still going to make a finding as to the veracity of Khoza’s evidence.

“We are reluctant to comment as the matter is sub judice, which therefore means it is still premature for anyone to draw a conclusion on such assertions (that the police had forced the accused to make an affidavit implicating Morema),” Simasiku said.

“Therefore, it is advisable that we wait until cross-examination and the court to make its proper ruling basically to respect the sub judice principle. The prosecution will not act until (the court has pronounced itself on) the credibility of that information,” he added.

Morema was first accused of murder in 2008 while he was Bushbuckridge mayor.

He and his uncle, Erasmus Makhubedu, were accused of killing Jeffrey Sedibe when he tried to claim the R17 000 he was allegedly promised for killing political opponent Motion Mashile.

That case was, however, struck off the roll after a key witness declined to testify.

Meanwhile, the suspects in two other assassination cases of Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala and arts and culture spokesperson Sammy Mpatlanyane have been released.

Mohlala was shot dead in January 2009, while fighting tender corruption in the R1.2-billion Mbombela soccer stadium.

Mpatlanyane’s three alleged murderers were released in July after one of them was found to be unfit to stand trial and sent to a psychiatric institution.

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