Umlazi court murder: Victim was a key witness

2015-05-19 18:50


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Durban - A man shot and killed outside the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court on Monday was a key witness in a murder trial.

Glebelands Hostel resident Sipho Ndovela was gunned down outside the court on Monday after a case of attempted murder against him, pertaining to a brawl in a tavern in 2014, was struck of the roll.

The hostel has been gripped by an alleged extortion-for-accommodation scam, where residents who refused to pay a protection fee are run out of the complex.

KZN Violence Monitor Mary De Haas said that Ndovela’s testimony “would have implicated the alleged key warlord and extortionist in the hostel complex, linked to countless attacks and many of the estimated 25 deaths in the hostel during the past year”.

She said that Ndovela had offered to testify as a witness in the murder of Fikile Siyephu in February – an incident in which he was wounded.

“Following legal advice Ndovela was to make a supplementary statement to the Umlazi police yesterday [Monday], but was killed before he could do so. He had received threats that he would not see court and there had already been one attempt to kill him.”

He was shot dead as he stepped outside to either make or take a telephone call.

De Haas added that she had written to Umlazi police commanders and Provincial Police Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni.  

“As attacks continued and it was clear that the lives of certain witnesses, including Ndovela’s were in grave danger, an urgent letter was addressed to Umlazi Cluster and Station management, as well as the Provincial Commissioner on April 21, pointing out their failure to act on previous letters and asking a number of public interest questions. The danger posed to witnesses – including Sipho Ndovela - was stressed, together with a request to ensure their safety.”  

“Umlazi SAPS management has failed in its constitutional mandate to prevent crime and to protect the people at Glebelands. It must be replaced forthwith. Nor can provincial management claim ignorance, given the letters copied to it.

"This raises further questions about the fitness of the Provincial Commissioner to hold office. The buck stops with the MEC, who has also been apprised of the situation in Glebelands through letters copied to his office.” 

“If South Africa were truly a democracy, the honourable thing to do would be for him to resign, or at least take responsibility for the conduct of the provincial and Umlazi police. However, given the general lack of accountability, and sheer arrogance, of politicians holding important positions, that seems unlikely,” she said.

“Thousands of people died in this province in the cause of the liberation which gave these same politicians their positions but liberation is a hollow victory for those who continue to die.”

Police hit back

But the police hit back, with spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker, responding on behalf of Ngobeni, saying that their operations had been focused on Glebelands and that Ndovela had refused witness protection.

“Crime at the hostel needs the involvement of all stakeholders. However when the SAPS has operations at the hostel, the residents complain of being inconvenienced.

"We have had numerous operations at the hostel and have always encountered resistance from hostel residents, most recently with the two operations conducted under Operation Fiela. Therefore the allegations that police management is doing nothing is malicious and untrue."

Naicker said Police management is personally involved and over the weekend the Cluster Commander personally intervened to keep the two groups apart.

“Investigations into the involvement of certain individuals from two grouping within the hostel are at an advanced stage and we cannot divulge further details. We are convinced that our investigations will reveal who are behind the violence and whether there is police involvement or not.”

“Yesterday’s death at the court could have been avoided if the deceased had agreed to police’s request that he be placed under the witness protection programme. Although he is a suspect in another matter, he was offered the opportunity but declined. The police cannot compel individuals to participate in the witness protection programme,” he added.

Read more on:    saps  |  durban  |  crime
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