Killer admits payment for NFP ‘hit’

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IOL pic apr7 justice scales file Independent Newspapers .

Durban - A convicted murderer has testified that he was paid by the former deputy mayor of uMzinyathi District Municipality to drive two hitmen hired to kill a fellow National Freedom Party (NFP) member.

Felamandla Mkhize, 56, is charged with Mkonzeni Ntuli, 37, also an NFP member, who served as a party representative at Msinga Municipality.

The two are on trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the murder of Thulebona Nhlebela on July 6, 2012.

Nhlebela, 48, was shot dead on the road between Nquthu and Dundee in northern KwaZulu-Natal. He was the chairman of the Nquthu constituency in uMzinyathi district.

The accused have both pleaded not guilty to murder.

The State alleges that some time before the murder, a dispute arose between Nhlebela, Mkhize and Ntuli over positions within the NFP hierarchy in the uMzinyathi district.

The indictment states Mkhize and Ntuli decided to resolve the dispute by killing Nhlebela. To this end, they allegedly procured the services of Khawulani Mkhize, 28, to execute Nhlebela.

On the morning of July 6, 2012, Khawulani and two others carrying firearms, drove to Nhlebela’s home.

They encountered him on the road travelling in his bakkie and followed him to Hazeldene Farm, where he stopped outside the gate.

It is alleged the two gunmen approached Nhlebela and opened fire on him as he sat in his vehicle. He died at the scene.

Khawulani, who is serving 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder in September 2012, on Tuesday told the court that he was hired by Mkhize to transport the killers.

He said he had approached the deputy mayor in June 2012 for work because his family was starving.

On July 5, Mkhize told Khawulani he needed him to drive to Nquthu the following day with two other people to “deal” with a person who had been threatening his (Mkhize’s) life.

He confirmed he drove two men to Nquthu on July 6, 2012.

Khawulani said he was later paid R5 000 by Mkhize for “driving”.

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