Cele urged to release report into Mpumalanga political murders

Bheki Cele. Picture: Edrea du Toit
Bheki Cele. Picture: Edrea du Toit

Police Minister Bheki Cele is being pushed to account for a stagnated investigation into political murders in Mpumalanga that he had commissioned six years ago when he was national police commissioner.

The SA Communist Party (SACP) has demanded that Cele release a report of the 12-member task team of senior police officers who were appointed to solve the riddle of political assassinations in the province, that all of his successors were unable to do.

Cele was national police commissioner between 2009 and June 2012.

Former president Jacob Zuma fired him following allegations of corruption in a controversial office lease deal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Cele as police minister last month.

When Cele appointed the task team in January 2012, Mpumalanga had been beset by high-profile political assassinations since 2009.

• Former City of Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala was fatally shot in 2009 for exposing corruption in the R1.2 billion Mbombela stadium tenders when he was about to lay criminal charges

• The following year, former Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation spokesperson Sammy Mpatlanyane was shot at his house in Mbombela and the motive for his killing has not been established

• In 2011, former ANC chief whip in Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Johan Ndlovu, was also shot and killed. He was among contenders for the district’s mayoral position

• SACP member Dumisani “Bomber” Ntshangase was shot and killed in Bethal in 2010 while he was exposing corruption on the Govan Mbeki municipality’s rental flats.

The SACP’s Ehlanzeni region this week called on Cele to release the report and attend to the unresolved political cases.

The party had staged protest marches to force the hand of Cele’s successor as national police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, to release the report but was unsuccessful.

“Cele is the only one who investigated the political killings and we did not get feedback. He must tell us if the investigators ran into a wall, found nothing or (why) the report will not be released,” said SACP’s Ehlanzeni regional secretary, Bhobert Nkosi.

Cele’s spokesperson, Nonkululeko Phokane, said: “There were three police ministers and five national commissioners appointed after him. The matter dates back six years ago and it’s a bit unfair to be raised with him now.”

Nkosi said the SACP would lead a campaign to re-open all the corruption cases, including the Mbombela stadium case which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said would not be reinstated due to insufficient evidence.

The police failed to arrest anyone for Mohlala’s murder but made some progress regarding the corruption he died while fighting.

The Hawks arrested Kaizer Chiefs Football Club manager, Bobby Motaung, and five others in 2012 for fraud, theft and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

This case became controversial when former Hawks boss, Mthandazo Ntlemeza, took the docket from the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Mashudu Mashamba.

Mashamba was then transferred against his will from the Hawks office in Mbombela to Giyani, Limpopo.

When the trial was proceeding in the Nelspruit Regional Court in 2012, prosecutor Advocate Patrick Nkuna made a request to transfer the case to the North Gauteng High Court for the purpose of expediting the trial.

Nkuna’s bosses wrote two contradicting letters to the magistrate about the transfer of the case.

One letter said it should remain in the regional court while another one said it must be transferred.

The magistrate withdrew the case because of the NPA’s confusion.

NPA spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said the prosecuting authority closed the case in November 2016 after police could not obtain evidence requested by the lead prosecutor, Advocate Willem van Zyl.

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