Conspiracy charge for five

2010-05-11 00:00

SIZWE Mkhize, the man implicated in a plot to allegedly kill KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize in 2007, was charged with conspiracy at the Pinetown Regional Court yesterday.

Mkhize, a prominent Durban businessman, appeared in the dock with Themba Xaba, Jackson Chili, Mlungisi Xulu and Sithembiso Mthembu, on conspiracy to murder as well as possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition charges.

The five accused were arrested by Hillcrest police on April 22. They had an unlicensed firearm and 10 rounds of ammunition. The men were driving a black Yaris, believed to be owned by one of their girlfriends.

The courtroom was packed with friends and family of the accused and media.

Dressed in a yellow jersey, Mkhize listened intently when the magistrate inquired if the five men were aware of the newly added conspiracy charge.

All five have refused Legal Aid assistance and opted to conduct their own defence.

When the matter was remanded for further investigation, Chili asked the court what needed to be investigated as he believed that he had made a “clear” statement to the police.

The matter will be assessed by the directorate of public prosecutions.

The case will continue on May 26, when the accused are expected to make a formal bail application.

They were remanded into custody at Westville.

It is not the first time that self-confessed hit man Mkhize has been involved in controversy.

In 2007 he was put under the witness protection programme after making claims that he was offered a sum of R150 000 to assassinate Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize, who was then the province’s Finance and Economic Development MEC.

A top ANC official in the province at the time was fingered as the person behind the plot to assassinate Mkhize.

In 2008, he was expected to be a state witness in a case against two former Scorpions’ members, charged with defeating the ends of justice. Vuyolwethu Mleve and Siphiwo Ripa faced charges in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

It was alleged that Mleve had offered Mkhize R150 000 to implicate President Jacob Zuma in the case, by “confessing” that Zuma gave him some money to make the claims about the plot to assassinate Mkhize.

When the case against the former Scorpions did not materialise, Mkhize was taken out of the protection programme and calls were made by organisations in the ANC alliance for him to be tried for plotting to assassinate the premier.

Nothing materialised from that call until two weeks ago after Mkhize was arrested with the four near Hillcrest, west of Durban.

It was reported that their arrest was prompted by a tip-off from crime intelligence, and shortly after their arrest their case was made a “priority” for the Hawks unit.

SAPF spokesperson Phindile Radebe said the Hawks took over the case to investigate whether the five were linked to other serious crimes.

Although their charges now include a conspiracy to murder charge, it was not disclosed in court papers as to whom they are alleged to have plotted to murder.

 

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