‘Intention was to kill, not like a robbery gone wrong’

2019-05-15 15:33
Police. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

Police. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

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Nonzuzo Sithole has not been able to sleep a wink since she witnessed the brutal murder of her brother, Martin Sithole and his friend Buthanani Shange, who died in a hail of bullets on Sunday.

She and Martin’s son were just a few metres away from the pair at the family bottle store, in the Newcastle CBD, when gunmen opened fire on them. “We were all outside the store and they were shot within seconds of me and his son going inside.

“I don’t know how many shots were fired but it was a lot. The intention was obviously to kill because it’s not like it was an attempted robbery gone wrong,” she said yesterday.

Martin was the former treasurer of ANC eMalahleni Region and his friend Shange — who had dropped by to see him — was the principal of Cebe­lihle Primary School.

Nonzuzo said the last moments of her brother’s life replayed in her head every time she closed her eyes. She said after the gunmen left they rushed to his side.

“He didn’t die immediately like Shange, who was shot in the head, so we tried to see where he was shot to stop the bleeding. When the paramedics arrived they spent more than 30 minutes trying to stabilise him but I guess it was his time to go because he was shot in the heart as well.”

Nonzuzo said she wished Martin’s son had not seen his father take his last breath because of how that could affect him as he grows up to become a father himself. “When it’s someone’s time to go there’s nothing we can do to stop it but I just wish the gunmen had taken him away from the store so that his child didn’t have to see that.”

She said the family was aware that Martin was expected to be called to give evidence in the pending court matter of the 2016 murder of former ANCYL regional deputy chairperson Wandile Ngubeni.

Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba — the mayor of Newcastle — is one of the three accused on the case and was granted bail of R20 000 last month.

“It’s not my place to accuse anyone of being involved in the killing of my brother because I have no proof and I don’t even know who the hitmen were. As a family all we want is justice for him and his friend,” she said.

Their deaths are being investigated by a ministerial task team probing political killings in Kwa­Zulu-Natal.

“My dad was not involved in politics and he was not affiliated to the ANC. If indeed their death was politically motivated then for my dad it was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Shange’s son, Smele.

He said his father had been a teacher for more than 40 years and was meant to retire next month. “At the moment we are just going through the motions with the preparations. I think it’s going to really hit us when everyone leaves and we are on our own,” said Smele about how the family are doing.

Sithole is survived by his parents, three siblings, wife and four children. Shange left his wife of more than 30 years, Phumelele, and their four children. Both friends will be laid to rest on Saturday, Shange in Newcastle and Sithole at his Estcourt home.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder

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