Arrests in politically linked killings

2012-09-04 00:00

POLICE arrested two suspects in a double swoop last week as they continued to notch up further breakthroughs in a spate of politically-linked killings.

The two arrests came on Friday and were connected to the murders of National Freedom Party councillors and members.

Yesterday, Ndlangisa Mandla (36) appeared in the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court, charged with the murder of Thamsanqa Mnyango (23). He was remanded in custody and his case was postponed to Thursday for bail.

Mandla, who was arrested by the provincial Political Violence Task Team and Umlazi detectives, allegedly shot Mnyango, a member of the NFP, on July 21 at Umlazi Hostel, south of Durban.

Mnyango was found dead with two bullet wounds to the head.

Police have refused to speculate on the motive for his murder.

Also charged with murder yesterday was Khawulani Mkhize (28), who appeared in the Dundee Magistrate’s Court after he was arrested on Friday in Pomeroy by Greytown Cluster Task Team, Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit and Greytown Crime Intelligence members.

Mkhize, who was remanded in custody until his next appearance on September 10, was wanted for the murder of NFP councillor Isaac Thulebona Nhlebela (48).

Nhlebela was killed by a lone gunman when he stopped his car on the Dundee-Nqutu Road on July 6.

He was with his two sons, one of whom was about to open a farm gate when Nhlebela was shot dead.

The suspect ran to a getaway car further down the road and fled, police said.

NFP national organiser Bonga Nzuza praised detectives.

He said that since the party formed following a split from the Inkatha Freedom Party last January, 22 of its members and councillors had been killed.

Although police are usually reluctant to offer a motive in such cases, Nzuza was in little doubt.

“It was political, for sure. All of them,” said Nzuza.

Other breakthroughs have been made. On August 17, two brothers — aged 29 and 32 — were arrested by the Durban Organised Crime unit in Umlazi’s T-section.

They were wanted for the death of NFP member Mthunzi Gwala (32), who was found on the night of July 14, lying on a road with four gunshot wounds to the head.

Then, on July 23, a 56-year-old man handed himself over to Greytown police in connection with the murder of NFP councillor Bongani Tshelembe (52).

Tshelembe was on his way back from a meeting in Tugela Ferry to Keates Drift on May 1 when he and two occupants were fired at on the R33 Main Road.

He and one of his passengers died, while the third person was badly wounded. Four men were arrested on July 16 for the shootings.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

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