Murder accused Mandla Msibi will attend his first ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) meeting this afternoon since stepping aside in April after the double murder and attempted murder charges against him were provisionally withdrawn.
The former Mpumalanga agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs MEC was elected provincial ANC treasurer in April, even though he had already stepped aside pending the finalisation of the criminal case.
READ: ‘I have always been a target’– Mandla Msibi
The Mbombela High Court provisionally withdrew the charges on Monday due to outstanding information. Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Monica Nyuswa did not specify what information was outstanding.
“The case was provisionally withdrawn due to outstanding information that was detected by the investigating team. The NPA is ready, and all the accused have a case to answer to once we obtain all the outstanding information,” Nyuswa said.
A relieved Msibi said that he was ready to start his job as treasurer.
Mpumalanga ANC secretary Muzi Chirwa confirmed that Msibi would resume his responsibilities with immediate effect.
“We are strengthened now that all the top five members are available to work, especially with a national conference in December approaching,” Chirwa said.
Msibi’s legal team has been pushing for the case to be struck off the roll when police delayed providing ballistic tests.
READ: Witnesses in Msibi murder cases withdraw accusation
The politician was arrested following the fatal shooting of Sindela Sipho Lubisi and Dingane Ngwenya outside Coyote’s Pub & Shisa Nyama in Mbombela on August 22 2021. Another victim, Sfiso Mpila, was wounded in the shooting.
The murder accusations started with an attempted gatecrashing of a conference that was held at Nutting House Lodge outside Mbombela. Msibi was Mpumalanga ANC elections manager at the time.
It is alleged that two groups driving in a blue double-cab bakkie and a VW Polo clashed outside the lodge’s gate on August 22, last year. Shots were fired, but due to the intervention of the police, there were no injuries.
The double-cab bakkie then chased the VW Polo and the fight reached boiling point when those in the bakkie allegedly opened fire on the hatchback, which was parked outside Coyote’s Shisa Nyama in Mbombela. This resulted in Lubisi and Ngwenya’s death.
Msibi claimed he was inside Coyote’s, paying for a takeaway order when the shooting happened outside.
Provincial party chairperson Mandla Ndlovu said: “The PEC will meet today and Comrade Mandla (Msibi) will attend his first PEC meeting since he was elected treasurer.”
The Nutting House shooting, however, shed light on a brewing turf war between Msibi and Mpumalanga Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Vusi Mkhatshwa.
Mkhatshwa’s support base is in Barberton while Msibi’s is in Pienaar.
Before the November 1 2021 local government elections, Mkhatshwa’s supporters were concerned about Msibi’s power in Barberton, particularly in ward 45, where his ally, Njabulo “Tshugulugu” Mkhonto, stood as ward councillor. Mkhonto fled his home before the elections and sought refuge in Msibi’s home because he feared for his life. He won the ward.
Mkhatshwa’s ally, Lifa Nkosi, who was a former councillor of ward 45, alleged that the shooting was targeted at him. However, in a twist of events, Nkosi was arrested for murder. He allegedly shot and killed off-duty police officer Detective Constable Nkosinathi Lucky Ngwenya and his friend Jafta Mnisi on October 16 at Tzaneen Tavern.
Mkhonto is among the four charged with Msibi. The City of Mbombela council provided Mkhonto with protection in May following threats on his life.