The MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, Mandla Msibi (45), will spend a night behind bars pending his bail application in the Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
Msibi was charged with murder and attempted murder when he appeared at the same court on Monday afternoon.
Msibi, who is also an ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) member and its head of elections in the province, handed himself over to the police on Monday morning in the company of his lawyer, Coert Jordaan.
Msibi’s arrest relates to a shooting incident that happened near Coyote’s Shisa Nyama – a popular drinking spot in Mbombela – on August 22.
It is alleged that the shooting incident was related to ANC infighting about a list conference that was held at Nutting House Lodge outside Mbombela.
Suspects driving in a blue double-cab bakkie allegedly opened fire on a VW Polo. Two ANC members – Sindela Sipho Lubisi and Dingane Ngwenya – were killed, while a third member, Sfiso Mpila, was wounded.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said that police arrested Joseph Charlie Ngwenya (35) and Tshepo Matsane (30) on September 17 in connection with the shooting. Ngwenya and Matsane have already appeared twice in court and were released on R20 000 bail on October 8.
Jordaan told City Press on Monday morning that the latest charges against Msibi were politically motivated:
Recently acquitted on 10 charges
Msibi’s arrest comes barely two months after he was acquitted on 10 charges, ranging from assault, attempted murder theft and malicious damage to property – for which he had been attending court since 2018.
All the charges are centred around allegations that Msibi was running a vigilante group in his stronghold in Pienaar outside Mbombela, where he resides.
Jordaan said long before Msibi was acquitted that the charges were politically motivated. He said that a total of 10 cases were laid against the MEC but, in six of those cases, Msibi’s was never named as a suspect.
Jordaan said that in all the cases, the “common denominator” was City of Mbombela councillor Themba Bhulunga who was either a complainant or a witness.
A rising star
Msibi rose through ANC ranks, from being a ward councillor in the Mbombela to being a council speaker, before former Mpumalanga premier and current deputy president, David Mabuza, co-opted him into the PEC.
Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane appointed Msibi as cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC in 2018. The premier redeployed Msibi to the agriculture portfolio when she reshuffled her cabinet and removed all of Mabuza’s loyalists.
Premier monitors the case
In a statement, Mtshweni-Tsipane said:
She said she would take “appropriate action” after the MEC appeared in court.