Inkosi gunned down

2009-01-22 00:00

Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi of Ngome in Greytown, the direct descendant of Inkosi Bhambatha kaMancinza and a close ally of ANC president Jacob Zuma, was yesterday morning gunned down in Umlazi, south of Durban.

MEC for Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Cele, who rushed to the murder scene yesterday, said.

it was established that Zondi was travelling alone in his maroon Toyota Run X at about 6.55 am, when he was overtaken by a yellow VW Polo before the intersection of Stimela and Road 2403 in Umlazi’s Z section.

At the intersection, the occupants of the VW Polo started shooting at Zondi’s car with AK 47 rifles, he said. It is believed that there were three attackers, including the driver, in the car.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Jay Naicker said that Zondi was hit by the hail of bullets in the process, and he “slumped into the passenger’s seat, lost control of the car which then hit the barrier before coming to a halt”.

Naicker added that about 50 AK47 shells were found at the scene. The motive for the attack was unknown, he added, and police were appealing for information from people who might have witnessed the incident.

Zondi’s brother, Oscar, said that the chief’s family was still reeling from shock yesterday.

“We are still at the crime scene and have very little information or clue as to what may have happened here,” he said in a telephonic interview with The Witness.

Oscar could not be drawn to comment on whether he thought his brother’s killing could have had something to do with his close association with Zuma.

“We do not want to speculate and say that maybe it was political because as far as I know he was a people’s person and an inkosi for all the people of Ngome. We would just have to wait for the outcome of the investigation.”

He said Zondi had been to his other house in Umlazi.

While no arrest had been made yesterday, Cele sounded confident that a breakthrough in the investigation was imminent.

“This kind of behaviour is totally brutal and unacceptable. Police are following a promising lead and the perpetrators will face the full might of the law,” Cele said in a statement.

Cele said that a specialised task team of investigators from the SAPS are working on the case.

The VW Polo used in the attack was found abandoned at Umlazi’s U section. It was established that the vehicle had earlier been hijacked in Umlazi and had been fitted with false registration plate.

The 37-year-old Zondi had close links to Zuma, and had accompanied the ANC president to many of his court appearances. In December 2007, shortly after Zuma was elected ANC president, Zondi hosted Zuma at his home and slaughtered cows in celebration of Zuma’s Polokwane victory.

At the victory rally, held on December 23 in Greytown, Zuma said of Zondi: “Regardless of whether I was in Gauteng or Pietermaritzburg, you have been visible throughout my ordeals”.

Yesterday, through a statement released by the ANC, Zuma extended his condolences to Zondi’s family.

“He was a friend of the ANC and a friend of democracy. His loss will greatly be felt,” said Zuma.

Early this year, the slain inkosi held another ceremony to honour Zuma and Premier Sbu Ndebele for the role they played in restoring the chieftaincy of the Zondi clan.

Ndebele yesterday expressed “outrage and shock”.

“I received the news of the brutal murder of Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi while attending the annual January Cabinet Lekgotla in Pretoria. I informed President Kgalema Motlanthe as well as the Minister for Safety and Security Nathi Mthethwa,” he said.

“I also informed the president of the ANC Jacob Zuma. We are confident that the SAPS will soon arrest the perpetrators of this heinous crime and ensure that they are brought to book.”

The ANC said Zondi was an ANC member and activist who played a very important role in drumming up support for the party in the Msinga area.

MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu also condemned the attack, saying Zondi’s death “will leave a gaping void in the institution of traditional leadership, not only in the province but in the whole country”.

Police urged those with information that might assist them with investigations to contact their local police station. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call the Crime Stop Toll Free number: 08600 10111.

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