Two arrested and firearms seized following Mpumalanga councillor's murder

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Councillor Sbonelo Mthembu was killed following a shooting in Piet Retief. (Supplied by SAPS)
Councillor Sbonelo Mthembu was killed following a shooting in Piet Retief. (Supplied by SAPS)
  • Two men have been arrested after the murder of a Mpumalanga councillor.
  • Firearms and ammunition were seized during the arrests.
  • Police are also investigating if the men could be linked to the murder of another councillor shot in the same area two months ago.

Two men have been arrested after they were found in possession of firearms and ammunition believed to have been used in the shooting of Mpumalanga councillor Sbonelo Mthembu and two other people.

Mthembu was gunned down in Mkhondo on Friday.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said the two men were arrested in Longhomes township on Monday and that an automatic rifle and ammunition had been confiscated.

During the arrest, officers also confiscated other firearms and ammunition allegedly owned by a security company.

Mohlala said that the confiscated firearms would undergo ballistic testing to establish if they could be linked to any crimes, including Friday's shooting.

READ | Cape Town woman arrested in R1.5 million drug bust released without charge

Along with Mthembu, two other men were killed in the shooting: Mthembu's mechanic Sandile Khumalo, 51, and his friend Sizwe Mbingo, 40.

Mthembu and Khumalo had just been dropped off by Mbingo, when they were shot at, said Mohlala.

Mohlala said:

The suspects reportedly fired multiple shots at [Mthembu] who was in the yard, and also shot Mbingo inside a bakkie. [He] sadly died at the scene. Khumalo was shot in the yard as well. Thereafter the suspects fled in an unknown direction.

Mbigno died on the scene. Mthembu and Khumalo were both taken to hospital, but later succumbed to their injuries.

The arrested men were expected to appear in the Mkhondo Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. The first man will face charges of possession of an unlicenced firearm, while the second has been charged with fraud, contravention of the Firearms Control Act, and contravention of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act.

Mohlala said investigations were still continuing and that the two men could still be charged with triple murder.

READ | Special team to investigate murder of Mpumalanga councillor and two other men

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela urged the families of the victims to "remain calm and allow police [the] space to investigate".

During a visit to Mthembu's family on Monday, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced the establishment of a special team to probe political murders in the province. The team will investigate Mthembu's murder, as well as that of Muzi Manyathi, another councillor who was shot dead in the same municipality in November last year.

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