Twist in NFP murders

2012-07-25 00:00

A HIGH-RANKING councillor handed himself over to the police in connection with the murders of two National Freedom Party councillors from the uMzinyathi District Municipality.

The NFP confirmed in a statement that it had suspended the politician, who cannot be named until he has pleaded to the charges. He is due to appear in the Msinga Magistrate’s Court today.

Police confirmed that the councillor claimed to have been behind the murders of NFP councillors Bongani Shelembe (52) and Isaac Thulebona Nhlebela (46), who were gunned downed in May and July this year.

Shelembe was shot dead on May 1 while driving on the R33 after attending a meeting in Tugela Ferry

Nhlebela died in a hail of bullets on July 6 on the road between Dundee and Nqutu.

The police launched a massive manhunt for the killers and were cautious about linking the two killings or entertaining speculation that they were politically motivated.

Following the murders, leaders of the NFP met the KZN police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, to complain that the had not afforded their members the same protection as other political parties.

Days later, four suspects — all NFP members — were arrested and charged for both murders. Nonsindiso Dlamini (22), Mkhonzeni Ntuli (37), Mlindeli Mchunu (31) and Mzonjani Mgwaba (41), appeared in the Msinga Magistrate’s Court on July 16.

At that time, it was expected that a prominent politician was to be arrested and would be joining them in the dock.

On Monday, the politician handed himself over to the Greytown police and was immediately charged with both murders.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge confirmed that a 56-year-old man had handed himself over to the Greytown police for the murders of Shelembe and Nhlebela.

In a statement yesterday, the NFP confirmed that the politician and the four other suspects had been suspended.

NFP spokesperson Nhlanhla Khubisa said this was in keeping with the decision taken by the national executive committee that anyone charged with the killings in uMzinyathi would face immediate suspension from the party and from the public office positions they occupied.

Khubisa welcomed the arrests. “We want to categorically state that all those involved in the murder of our councillors, we want them behind bars no matter who they are.

“We will not condone murder even if it is perpetuated by our members,” he said.

Khubisa emphasised that there was no interorganisational violence among NFP members except for the killings in uMzinyathi.

He added that the party was also concerned about the ongoing murders of its members in the vicinity of Umlazi’s Unit 17 hostel.

Khubisa called on the police to keep a 24-hour watch in the area.

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