PAC boss’ deadly love triangle

2015-03-22 15:00

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Ousted PAC leader Alton Mphethi was in a righteous mood ... and he didn’t care who knew it.

“If I have to go to jail for my wife committing adultery, so be it,” he lashed out in the North Gauteng High Court sitting in Ermelo on Thursday. “Somebody f**ked my wife and I have a problem with that.”

Mphethi then said: “If you go to your house and find another man, you can’t say: ‘Hi brother.’” This was in reply to a question about interrogating Swazi national Mthunzi Mavundla, who he is accused of murdering.

Mphethi’s righteousness is not confined to his murder trial. He also believes the PAC, which commemorated the 55th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre yesterday, had no right to expel him as president – and he is going to court this week to overturn his expulsion.

But he first had to deal with the matter of murdering Mavundla.

Mphethi, his second wife, Violet Malinga-Mphethi, younger brother Lazarus Mphethi, Solomon Matsimela and Ntwampe Thankgwe are facing charges of murder and defeating the ends of justice. According to the state, the men fatally assaulted Mavundla after Mphethi caught him in Malinga-Mphethi’s home. She later laid a false charge of rape against Mavundla.

They have all denied the charges, with Mphethi claiming a mob assaulted Mavundla while he was inside the house nursing injuries to his hands.

In graphic testimony in court, he described how the tragic saga unfolded in the early hours of January 14 2008.

Testifying that “God and my ancestors told me” to abandon a business trip because the “tender would be awarded to entrepreneurs linked to another organisation”, Mphethi told Judge Andre Louw he arrived in Ermelo just after midnight.

In high spirits and singing a hymn, he jumped over the remote-controlled gate of Malinga-Mphethi’s property to avoid disturbing her.

Mphethi is a polygamist with two wives.

Peering through the burglar bars on the bedroom’s sliding door, he saw that Malinga-Mphethi was not there. Nor had the bed been slept in.

He called out to her telling her to let him in. She came out of a guest bedroom, passed her screaming husband and entered their bedroom.

When she finally let Mphethi into the house, he spotted Mavundla, whom he did not know, in the guest bedroom.

Mphethi testified that he phoned friends and relatives to discuss the stranger.

He questioned Malinga-Mphethi and Mavundla, but they refused to answer his questions.

Malinga-Mphethi then left through the bedroom window.

“I sat with this man for two hours before anyone arrived. We spoke about culture and other things, and he denied he had sexual intercourse with my wife.

“He told me his name was Mandla Ndlangamandla,” Mphethi testified.

At some point, Lazarus and his friend arrived. Mphethi said Mavundla hit him with a chair and used it to break a window to escape.

“I tried to grab him by his legs and cut both my hands. My brother and his friend followed him through the window. I went to the bathroom to wash my hands because I was bleeding profusely and I kept going back a few times,” said Mphethi.

He said Lazarus came back and asked him what was happening, but he lied “to protect my wife’s dignity” and said the man had been stealing.

He then placed a PlayStation and a TV in the guest bedroom to stage a break-in. He initially told the police it was a break-in, but changed his statement to rape upon Malinga-Mphethi’s return.

Mphethi denied changing his statement because the housebreaking story would not be feasible.

He said while he was inside the house, “I heard a noise outside. People were shouting in isiZulu and Sesotho: ‘Stop him! Stop him!’”

When he went outside about 20 minutes later, there were many people at the gate and Mavundla was lying dead in a pool of blood.

Mphethi and his wife – who have different lawyers – did not speak to each other outside court. The trial has been adjourned to November. But when she offered City Press an interview, Mphethi – sporting a Zion Christian Church badge on his chest – lost his cool.

“Don’t interview my wife. I said: ‘Don’t interview my wife,’” he said.

But it was clear he did not only have the murder trial on his mind. Earlier he had asked when he noted City Press’ presence: “Who sent you here? Is it [Narius] Moloto?” Moloto is the PAC’s secretary-general.

Highest crime

Mphethi’s lawyer has warned the PAC about convicting his client before his murder trial is concluded.

The PAC said Mphethi had not revealed the murder charge when he was elected as deputy president. They only learnt of it when he was elected president.

“He was dragged into a national disciplinary committee (NDC) which, among other [charges], included this misdemeanour and other wild tendencies,” said party spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe.

“We believe that murder is the highest crime against humanity and, therefore, we would prevent it with whatever it takes. We have escaped a huge embarrassment as the party and do not approve of criminals, hence we are anticorruption,” he said.

But Mphethi’s lawyer, Advocate Brandon Tshabangu, said the PAC’s information was “totally wrong”.

“At the moment, Mr Mphethi is charged but not convicted. This allegation is an insult and when necessary, legal action will be taken,” he said.

Mphethi claims he was expelled by a cabal led by Moloto and will challenge his expulsion in the Northern Gauteng High Court because the NDC did not follow certain procedures.

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