Union federation Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) in Limpopo’s Vhembe district are concerned about the way in which investigations into the deaths of their comrades, Ronald Mani and Tshililo Timson Musetsho, are being conducted.
The two killings are allegedly linked to the VBS looting scandal.
As a result, they sent a delegation to meet prosecutors following the appearance of a man who was arrested in connection with firearms found at the homes of union leaders. Thabo Sibandze, who is alleged to be linked to a “high-profile case”, appeared at the Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court last week.
Mani and Musetsho were members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union as well as employees at the Vhembe District Municipality, which had deposited R311 million into VBS Mutual Bank in contravention of regulations.
They were gunned down in separate incidents earlier this year. The two were outspoken about the looting of the bank from which close to R1.2 billion was stolen. Their killings are suspected to be linked to the VBS scandal because days before they were gunned down they had addressed striking municipal workers who were protesting against the looting.
Peter Muleya, executive member of the SACP’s Vhembe branch, was at the meeting with the prosecutors. He said they discussed the investigations into the deaths of the two men and called for their families to be updated. They also discussed Sibandze’s court appearance.
“It was agreed that the justice cluster and police officials should, from now on, start updating the two families on the progress of the case,” said Muleya.
He said an update should be given to the families before Sibandze returned to court on September 30.
The families wanted to know if his arrest was linked to the killings, he said.
Sibandze (27), who is from eSwatini is also facing a charge of illegal immigration since he entered the country without proper documentation.
Mukurukuru Media reported that he was arrested in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni.
During the brief court hearing last Wednesday, prosecutor Mashudu Nekhumbe argued that since the suspect was linked to a high-profile case, it should be postponed as the Director of Public Prosecutions was still busy with investigations. Nekhumbe said such a case should be tried at a regional court.
Last week at the state capture commission of inquiry, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, it was revealed that Limpopo mayors, who were allegedly implicated in the mismanagement of funds which were invested in the bank, were invited to testify on their dealings.
The commission also expects the municipalities implicated in the scandal to present turnaround strategies to deal with corruption in the supply management chain.
Hulisani Mani, the son of the Ronald Mani, said the two comrades were disciplined and that it was “important to follow in their footsteps while supporting the two families”.
“Even though they knew that their lives were in danger and there were people threatening them, they refused to be intimidated. After comrade TT [Tshililo Timson Musetsho] was shot, my father did not run away,” he said. “He continued with the same routine by raising the same issues. It is important that we continue to confront the enemy by being honest to the struggle.”
Hulisani called on the Vhembe community to unite because “corrupt officials were stealing from the poor [which resulted in them] not receiving basic service delivery”.
He said the corruption matter was not about his father and Musetsho but about the voiceless people of Vhembe.
Tshenuwani Dean Farisani, a member of the Pastors’ Forum, called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to deal with corruption “because the nation is being pounced on like eggs”.
“We are being finished,” he said.
Farisani also called on police minister Bheki Cele to finish his job in finding the killers of the two men because families no longer felt safe.
“If it means calling out the army just like in the Cape, so be it. This freedom is ours,” said Farisani.
Sibandze’s case was postponed to September 30. He remains in custody. – Mukurukuru Media