Richmond assassination breakthrough

2018-11-20 15:40
26062014 A heavy police presence remains at a property in Gillitts where 10 tonnes of uncut heroin was discovered by police. Photo: Matthew Middleton

26062014 A heavy police presence remains at a property in Gillitts where 10 tonnes of uncut heroin was discovered by police. Photo: Matthew Middleton

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With two men appearing in court in Richmond on Monday for the murder of Richmond municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole in 2017, police say they are now hunting for more suspects.

The police task team deployed to investigate political killings in KZN made a breakthrough in the murder case and arrested Sabelo Phewa and Goodman Gasa over the weekend.

They were remanded in custody and will appear in court on Monday for a formal bail application.

Richmond municipal workers, ANC members and community members swamped the court on Monday to catch a glimpse of the men accused of killing the well-respected municipal manager.

They started toyi-toyiing at the gate in anticipation of the arrival of the men, who were transported by police officers from the Tactical Unit and the National Intervention Unit — armed with R5 rifles and clad in protective gear.

As soon as the convoy arrived at court, people hurried into the court and squeezed and pushed their way to the packed public gallery.

Some who arrived minutes later were not allowed inside the courtroom, which was packed to capacity.

They were told only 60 people who were given special tickets would be allowed in at the next court appearance of the two men.

Sithole was shot dead in May 2017 outside Richmond municipal offices.

He was ambushed by two gunmen in broad daylight while he was walking to the municipal traffic department, close to the local police station.

State prosecutor Aven Naidu told the court the state needed seven days to conduct an identity parade with the two men.

Naidu added police were hoping to make more arrests in connection with Sithole’s murder, saying the additional arrested persons would appear in the identity parade alongside the two men.

Those who attended the court proceedings expressed their anger at the accused and ululated when magistrate Thembinkosi Cele announced that the two would be remanded in custody.

Sithole’s brother, Mpumelelo Sithole, said they were relieved by the arrests.

“This case has dragged on for a long time and we have been waiting for the answers. We have been dying to know who killed our brother and the reasons behind the murder.

“These arrests are an indication that police are working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators to book.

“We are adamant that we will know the truth very soon,” he said.

ANC regional task team convener Thulani Xulu said the latest development gave them hope that all other political killings in the region would be resolved.

“I think there are 27 arrests that have been made in connection with political murders in the province. We are looking forward to Monday to see what is going to happen.”

Sithole is not the only Richmond official to have been gunned down in the town last year.

Deputy mayor Thandazile Phoswa was shot and killed in April, while ward councillor Sifiso Mkhize was shot and killed in July. Those murders remain unresolved.

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