MEC Vusi Mkhatshwa speaks out about arrest rumours

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MEC Vusi Mkhatshwa. Photo: Facebook/@MpumalangaDEDT
MEC Vusi Mkhatshwa. Photo: Facebook/@MpumalangaDEDT

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Mpumalanga Finance and Economic Development MEC Vusi Mkhatshwa has defended an ally accused of killing a policeman, claiming that the Hawks have been misled.

Mkhatshwa has been the subject of rumours that police had linked him to the murder of Detective Constable Nkosinathi Lucky Ngwenya and Jafta Mnisi. Ngwenya and Mnisi were shot on October 16 at a tavern at Umjindi township near Barberton.

The Hawks arrested the former councillor of Barberton’s ward 45, Lifa Nkosi (42), for the double murder last Tuesday. Nkosi appeared in the Barberton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday for his bail application.

He was remanded in custody until November 30 due to network problems at the court.

To complicate matters, Nkosi is a witness in the double murder case against Mkhatshwa’s former colleague, Mandla Msibi, who was Mpumalanga agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs MEC and the ANC’s provincial elections manager.

READ: New twist as witness in former MEC’s double-murder case in dock, accused of killing a cop

Msibi handed himself over to the police on October 11. He and two co-accused, Joseph Charlie Ngwenya (35) and Tshepo Matsane (30), are out on R20 000 bail each for double murder and attempted murder.

They were charged for the fatal shooting of Sipho Lubisi and Dingane Ngwenya, and attempting to kill Sifiso Mpila, on August 22 near Coyotes Shisa Nyama in Mbombela. Nkosi alleged that the hit was aimed at him.

READ: ‘I have always been a target’– Mandla Msibi

They allegedly shot the trio following a dispute about the nomination of councillor candidates. The trio had allegedly been among comrades who wanted to enter Nutting House Lodge where the ANC had been holding an extended list conference. Guns were shot at the entrance but no one was injured or arrested.

‘Cooked and fake’ leads

Mkhatshwa said in a statement on Friday that he knew Nkosi and believed in his innocence:

He is a loyal ANC cadre and I believe he has been wrongly arrested due to people misleading our trusted police force with cooked fake leads. We are in a dangerous era where fake information can be manufactured at the push of a button.

“I believe he is innocent. As a student of law I implore that we let the long arm of the law handle this case to its finality. I have complete faith in our justice system,” he added.

READ: ANC Mpumalanga political turf gets ugly as Msibi allies report multiple assassination incidents

Regarding the rumours that he was on the brink of being arrested, Mkhatshwa said:

I heard about these rumours through colleagues that are close to a certain ally of my comrade, former MEC Mandla Msibi. It is truly unfortunate that young people we entrust with the future of this province aim to destabilise the leadership by spreading misinformation. I’m even told there was a 48-hour countdown on social media.

“I am not involved in any manner with these senseless killings.”

He, however, said that if the rumours proved to be true, he would cooperate with the police and comply with ANC processes. “I was not born into power or politics,” Mkhatshwa said.

“These positions we occupy are vehicles in which we continue to serve our people at the request of the ANC. If I am charged, as per ANC policy I would subject myself to the ANC step-aside processes unreservedly.”

Msibi is my comrade

Mkhatshwa said that he did not know the motive for the murders and believed that the police would solve the puzzle. He said that the ANC and the society at large needed to introspect about recent events and come up with a lasting solution.

After Msibi was charged, Mkhatshwa was captured in a video recording addressing ANC members in Ward 44. In that video, he said that he could not allow “Pienaar to deploy in Barberton.” Msibi resides in Pienaar.

He denied that what he said in the video was a direct reference to Msibi:

I don’t know why people would think that. Former MEC Msibi is my comrade. There have been elements from Pienaar [in KaNyamazane] – they might or might not be linked to the former MEC – which have sought to influence who gets elected as a representative of our wards in Barberton, which is more than 60km away. What interest do they have in our wards and the issues and challenges we face daily?

Mkhatshwa said that outsiders were not welcome to interfere in wards in his constituency unless they were officially invited. He said that all wards had their unique challenges and it was the responsibility of the communities who resided in those wards to stand up for their issues and question interference by outsiders.

“This is when we have to unite against any outside influence and deal with matters affecting our community,” Mkhatshwa said.


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Sizwe sama Yende 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
sizwe.yende@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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