After being cleared of all 10 criminal charges laid against him, Mpumalanga Agriculture, Land Administration and Environmental Affairs MEC Mandla Msibi said he was mulling over his next move after his acquittal in the final case this week, when the KaBokweni Magistrates’ Court acquitted him on the charge of malicious damage to property.
He intimated that he could sue for defamation and lay criminal charges of perjury. “My lawyers are looking into the matter.”
His lawyer, Coert Jordan, had argued that all the charges were politically motivated, and a central figure in all of them was a City of Mbombela councillor who was either a complainant or a witness in the cases.
Msibi indicated that – at the right time – he would release the names of the ANC provincial executive committee members who were part of this conspiracy against him.
The MEC was almost forced to step aside, had the ANC’s policy in this regard been implemented before he had been cleared of the charges. His name is on the provincial step-aside list submitted to Luthuli House, the governing party’s headquarters.
Since 2018, Msibi has been frequenting the Nelspruit and KaBokweni courts on charges ranging from common assault, assault to cause grievous bodily harm and malicious damage to property to attempted murder. All these incidents allegedly took place in Pienaar, near Kanyamazane, where he lives.
He started his political career as a ward councillor and moved up the ladder to become the speaker in the Mbombela Local Municipality.
The MEC was accused of commanding a vigilante group that conducted a reign of terror in the province.
In August 2017, Msibi was charged with attempted murder after the brutal assault of Given Madonsela and the battering of his employer’s BMW X5, which he was driving. Due to the assault, Madonsela has lost full use of one of his hands.
He claimed that Msibi and a group of men cornered him and started hitting him with pick handles on his head. He alleged that they also blocked his way when he tried to drive away in the BMW, and smashed the vehicle to beyond repair.
However, it turned out that many vehicles were vandalised on the day after mayhem broke out when a group of disgruntled residents attempted to halt a school construction project in the area.
That case was withdrawn on February 16 because witnesses did not show up for the trial. When it was reinstated, the court found that Madonsela had contradicted himself in his testimony and acquitted Msibi.
Last month, Msibi was acquitted of attempted murder when the complainant, Rocky Mxolisi Sithole (34), deposed an affidavit to clear Msibi. Sithole had accused Msibi and three other men of attempted murder in 2017 after they allegedly assaulted him with pick handles at his chicken braai business.
In his affidavit to the National Prosecuting Authority, Sithole wrote: “I’m a victim of the attempted murder case 153/08/2017. I have decided not to proceed with this case because I have sat down with my family and looked into this matter. And we have agreed that I must drop all the charges because I have not seen anyone assaulting me during the incident and I don’t recall anything about that day. I made this decision without any fear or favour. So, I request the court to drop or withdraw the charges.”
Is Msibi a political target?
Msibi is among senior ANC politicians in the province whose names are linked to higher positions. He is a member of the provincial executive committee and Mpumalanga’s head of elections.
He is on acting provincial chairperson Mandla Ndlovu’s slate and is tipped to become provincial treasurer when the elective conference is finally held this year.
Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane appointed Msibi as cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC in 2018 before moving him to the agriculture portfolio in February.