Shock over top lawyer's death

2012-05-14 08:26
 Durban - The suicide of a top KwaZulu-Natal attorney over the weekend has sent shock waves through the legal community, as his peers struggled to understand why he took his own life.

Respected Durban attorney Mvuseni Ngubane was found dead at his home in Kloof on Saturday.

Police were called to the scene when neighbours reported hearing a gunshot before 15:00, and found him dead with a single gunshot wound to the head.

He was found in the back seat of his Mercedes Benz and the gun had apparently been fired into his mouth.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said Ngubane’s 9mm pistol was found at the scene and police confirmed that the gun was registered to him.

There was also a suicide note at the scene, but this was partially illegible because it was covered in blood.

Mdunge could not confirm if there were any members of the family at home at the time of the incident.

Arms deal commission

Ngubane was a successful lawyer who was recently appointed to the president’s new arms deal commission of inquiry.

He was highly respected among colleagues who twice elected him as president of the Black Lawyers’ Association (BLA).

He hit the headlines in recent years when he represented Sheryl Cwele, the then-wife of State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, in her drug trafficking case.

She was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for drug trafficking. She has appealed against the sentence.

Cwele told The Witness she had been informed of Ngubane’s death on Saturday night by one of his colleagues.

“It was very shocking to me. I respected him and he was very professional.

“I never had any suspicions that he had trouble in his personal life,” she said.

She said it was too early to make any decisions regarding her court case.

A source who did not want to be named told The Witness that Ngubane had been under financial strain because many of his clients were not honouring their debts.

“He was always a man for smiles and jokes, so he wasn’t hard enough on those who owed him,” said the source.

'Tragic'

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, former president of the BLA, said: “It is tragic Mvuseni Ngubane had to die in these circumstances. He did not deserve this.

“He had a distinctive personality that endeared him to people.

“I spoke to him a few days ago and even then I had no idea anything was wrong.”

Former judge president of KwaZulu-Natal, Justice Vuka Tshabalala, said: “As the leader of the BLA he did a good job and he was chosen to be on the Judicial Services Commission to help appoint judges to the bench.

“I chatted to him the evening before he died and we were supposed to meet on the Saturday evening.”

Ngubane’s brother, Boy Ngubane, said the suicide note found in the car did not shed light on what pushed him to commit suicide. “There was nothing significant on the note and as a family we have taken a decision not to talk about it.

“He was not a person who suffered from any form of depression, when we were together, he was a bit tired but I just assumed that it was because of his training schedule as he was the kind of person who enjoyed training and often ran short-distance marathons.”

The deputy speaker of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Mtholephi Mthimkulu, said Ngubane’s death was a huge blow to the legal fraternity.

He is survived by his wife and two children, a son, 24, and a daughter, 13.


Read more on:    mvuseni ngubane  |  sheryl cwele  |  durban
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