Police guard for Sibiya accused

2011-09-21 00:00

WHEN accused assassin Xolani Zulu (34) appeared at Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court yesterday he must have been relieved to be under heavy police guard.

The crowd turned up in their masses to vent their anger at the man accused of murdering the well-loved ANC eThekwini secretary and councillor, Sbu Sibiya.

Separated by a fence, a mass of yellow shirts ran alongside the wire mesh hurling curses and pointing fingers as the police brought Zulu to Court H.

Armed with high-calibre firearms, police surrounded the room, watchful for any “heroes” as Zulu addressed presiding magistrate, Kevin Broughton.

Well-built and stocky, the taxi-boss turned tenderpreneur was cuffed at the hands and ankles.

Sibiya was assassinated by unknown gunmen in July while returning from an ANC meeting.

Yesterday’s matter was postponed until September 29 so that the accused can get legal representation.

His defence lawyer quit because Zulu could not afford him.

Among those who attended the high-profile case were ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala, eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and Cosatu provincial secretary Zet Luzipho.

Some within the ANC believe Sibiya’s killing was politically motivated and that it was linked to the contest for positions in the region, which will hold its elective conference later this month.

Members of the elite Hawks unit and national intervention unit swooped on other suspects allegedly linked to the same murder, in Welbedacht two weeks ago, but a shoot-out ensued between police and the suspects. Warrant Officer Rakesh Maharaj and two suspects were killed, and two other policemen were seriously wounded. One of the men killed, Zamani Sikhakhane, is alleged to have been the hitman hired to kill Sibiya, while the other, Bongani Tembe, was Sikhakhane’s landlord and not implicated in the assassination.

Police offered a R50 000 reward in an attempt to make a breakthrough in the investigation, and Zulu was subsequently arrested in Yellowood Park near Chatsworth.

More high-profile arrests are imminent, according to sources close to the investigation.

Another ANC official, councillor Wiseman Mshibe, was shot dead in March this year. At the time, Sibiya told media that Mshibe’s death was not politically motivated.

At this stage it is not known which of the alleged hitmen actually pulled the trigger in the murder of Sibiya.

THE SA Communist Party KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, James Nxumalo, said

KwaZulu-Natal is like Mpumalanga when it comes to killing of ANC leaders.

He was addressing ANC members outside the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court during Xolani Zulu’s appearance on a charge of killing ANC regional leader Sbu Sibiya.

“We don’t know whether our leaders are killed because of money. We want this to stop and people who do it have no place in the ANC.”

ANC councillor Wiseman Mshibe, was shot dead at his Montclair, Durban, home on March 1. A number of ANC leaders have been killed in the past few years in Mpumalanga, where there is reportedly a hit list of ANC leaders in the province.

Cosatu fears Zulu may be killed if released on bail.

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