North West - North West Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC China Dodovu became the most high-profile suspect in the murder of ANC regional secretary Aubuti Chika when the Hawks arrested him on Monday.
Dodovu, who is also the deputy chairman of the ANC in North West, was arrested at a meeting in Potchefstroom of the ANC’s provincial executive committee officials.
He is the eighth suspect in what is proving to have been a political murder two days before the start of the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December.
Chika was shot dead at his home in Alabama, Klerksdorp, on December 14.
Police said on Monday they expected more arrests in connection with the murder.
The killing of Chika followed an alleged attempt to murder suspended ANC provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge.
Dodovu’s arrest comes shortly after that of the chairman of the ANC Youth league in the North West, Papiki Baboile, who is also suspected of having been involved in the murder.
Dodovu is expected to face a charge of conspiracy to commit murder as he is not suspected of pulling the trigger.
Sikhakhane Sihlangu, a KwaZulu-Natal man suspected to have fired the shot that killed Chika, 38, is also in custody.
Other suspects arrested in connection with the murder include a ward councillor of Jouberton, Itumeleng Molebatsi, 50, Jerry Letuka, 28, ward secretary Paul Molomonyane, 33, municipal employee William Molefo, 46, and taxi driver Kgotso Kali, 36.
Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko confirmed the arrest and said Dodovu was being questioned. He said the arrest followed a gruelling investigation and the questioning of the other seven suspects who had been arrested over the past two weeks.
There has also been an offer of a R200 000 reward for people who come forward with information that leads to a conviction.
“We have been following up on information given by the seven suspects. Investigations are (continuing) and we can’t rule out the possibility of more arrests,” said Ramaloko.
He said the murder investigation was 90 percent complete.
The eight face charges of premeditated murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
North West ANC spokesman Kenny Morolong said the party was shocked by the arrest of such a senior ANC member in the province in connection with Chika’s murder.
“We express shock at the arrest of the senior member of the provincial executive, but we call for calm and reiterate that the courts are competent to deal with this matter. We are confident that justice will prevail for the Chika family. We are appealing to people to let the law take its course without impediment,” said Morolong.
“While we believe everybody is innocent until proved guilty, we also believe nobody is above the law, irrespective of the positions they occupy in society.”
North West Premier Thandi Modise also called for calm.
“While we note the arrest and hope justice will be done, we also believe every suspect is innocent until proved guilty. It is on this basis that we support further and intensive investigation into the matter. We believe MEC Dodovu will co-operate.”
Modise said Finance MEC Paul Sebegoe would take over the running of Dodovu’s department.
Chika’s political murder was not the first in North West.
Former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans was sentenced last year to 20 years’ imprisonment for the murder of councillor and whistle-blower Moss Phakoe.
Dodovu is expected to appear in the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.