Durban - The businessman accused of hiring hit men to kill ANC eThekwini regional secretary S’bu Sibiya walked free from the Durban High Court on Monday after the State withdrew the murder charge, citing the death of the only substantial witness in the case.

Sibiya was shot dead in the driveway of his Inanda home in July 2011. A few months later, police shot dead the two gunmen alleged to have been hired to kill him.

Xolani Zulu – who is in the construction industry – was arrested and, during his bail application, it was alleged he had communicated directly with at least one of the gunmen and there was video footage of him at a garage near Sibiya’s home.

Prosecutor advocate Noxolo Dube alleged the motive to be financial and that Zulu had subsequently been awarded a tender which Sibiya had at one time objected to.

In his affidavit, Zulu admitted he had made “incriminating calls” to the hit man, but said it was because he was investigating his own brother’s death in March that year which he believed to be at the hands of the same man.

The garage, he said, was close to the home of his dead brother.

 

On Monday, when the matter was called before Judge Philip Nkosi, the prosecutor said the key witness had died.

The Mercury understands that this was Mthandeni Ntuli, who was alleged to be a friend of both the hit men and Zulu.

He was shot and killed in Bizana in the Eastern Cape in January. A source said the police believed Ntuli’s murder to be unrelated to the Zulu matter.

The only other evidence was a “pointing out” which Zulu had done, during which he did not disclose any offence.

On Monday, the ANC said it was “shocked and deeply disappointed” by the withdrawal of the charges.

In a statement, provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said many members, including Sibiya’s wife, had attended court for what was to be the start of a two-week trial.

He asked why the key witness had not been in protective custody.

“A withdrawal is not the same as an acquittal and charges will be reinstated if further evidence is secured. We demand that the investigation be intensified. And we want a report on the investigation into the killing of the witness.

“We want the national Minister of Police, comrade Nathi Mthethwa, to immediately set up a specialised task team to provide co-ordinated direction and assistance for both investigations.

“The ANC will not rest until all those responsible are brought to book.”

The Mercury