Police investigators who have arrested Harry Gwala District Municipality Mayor Mluleki Ndobe and others in connection with the murder of former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa are pursuing more suspects.
This was revealed in the Umzimkhulu Magistrate’s Court where Ndobe appeared yesterday alongside Harry Gwala municipal manager Zwelibanzi Sikhosana, businessman Mbulelo Mpofana and former policeman Sibonelo Myeza.
State prosecutor Sohana Moodley told the court that the four accused could soon be joined by additional suspects in the case.
“There are outstanding suspects in this matter,” she said.
Ndobe, who arrived in court under heavy police guard, was arrested by members of the political killings task team on Saturday.
Wearing a grey suit, Ndobe, who is also an ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) member, avoided eye contact with members of the public who included Magaqa’s family, who were in the packed court gallery.
There were attempts by court officials to prevent the media from taking photographs of Ndobe as he sat in the dock but Magistrate Riaz Isak said the media was welcome to take pictures as long as this was not done during court proceedings.
Magaqa, who at the time of his killing was an ANC councillor in the Umzimkhulu Municipality, was shot in 2017 in Umzimkhulu following what appeared to be an ambush.
The former ANCYL leader later died in hospital from his gunshot wounds. Two other councillors who were with him during the shooting — Nontsikelelo Mafu and Jabulile Msiya — escaped with injuries.
Moodley told the court that Ndobe and his three co-accused are being charged with Magaqa’s murder and the attempted murder of Mafu and Msiya.
The accused, who have been remanded in custody, will be back in court on Monday for a formal bail application.
Moodley told the court that the accused had been charged with schedule 6 offences, meaning that they have to prove the existence of exceptional circumstances to be granted bail.
Outside court groups from across political parties in the province chanted and sang on hearing that Ndobe — whose group of backers had also turned up to lend him support, will spend the weekend behind bars.
Magaqa’s brother, Lwazi, said the family were hopeful that the arrests will bring them closer to the truth.
“Since his death we have been eager to know why he was killed and who killed him. We view the arrests as an indication that something was being done to solve Sindiso’s murder case,” he said.
The family had blocked Ndobe when he attempted to visit Magaqa’s home to convey condolences shortly after the former ANCYL leader’s shooting.
A former ANC provincial deputy secretary, Ndobe occupies the third spot on the ANC provincial legislature candidate list.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said party leaders would soon hold a meeting on the Ndobe matter.
“At the moment we do not have guidelines on what should happen to an ANC member who is on the list but finds himself in a situation similar to that of comrade Mluleki,” she said.
On whether the murder charges meant that Ndobe would be removed as Harry Gwala District Municipality mayor, Simelane-Zulu said the ANC subscribed to the principle that those charged were innocent until found guilty. “The practice within the ANC has been to wait until the court pronounces itself,” she said.