The affordable education loan option
Durban - The employment of two men linked to the murder of Sifiso Nkabinde, a KwaZulu-Natal politician, as bodyguards in the uMgungundlovu District municipality, could be seen as a “political deployment” or “political compensation” by the ANC, said an IFP member of the council on Wednesday.
The municipality must have known of Thulasizwe Dennis Mbanjwa (also known as Danny Thulani Mbanjwa) and Anil Jelal’s previous convictions when they were hired, and, if not, were made aware in 2007 when the issue was reported by media. The mayor at the time, Bongi Sithole, had no comment.
However, the matter fizzled out in the media.
Interest in Mbanjwa has resurfaced after his involvement in an N3 shooting incident recently. He was subsequently suspended.
Mbanjwa and another bodyguard, Sthembiso Mokoena, were part of the VIP team taking district mayor Yusuf Bhamjee to Durban when they allegedly fired at a 24-year-old motorist. Both bodyguards now face a charge of attempted murder.
It has emerged, once again, that Mbanjwa had been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for his role in the killing of Nkabinde in January 1999, while Jelal was sentenced to six years, after being convicted of being an accessory after the fact to murder, and the unlawful possession of a machine gun.
Reports said that Jelal was a former policeman who was with the SAPS VIP Protection Unit. At the time of his arrest and subsequent conviction, Jelal had been Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo’s bodyguard and was a member of the SAPS VIP protection unit.
Mbanjwa, according to reports, was once a Pietermaritzburg High Court usher and an ANC candidate in the Richmond elections.
Nkabinde had been expelled from the ANC on suspicion of having been a spy for the apartheid government. He then joined a rival party, the United Democratic Movement.
The IFP caucus chairman at the district municipality’s council, Mbongeni Madlala, said it was improper to employ the men as bodyguards and that they should not be allowed to use firearms.
He said that if the municipality knew of their previous convictions before hiring them, then it was a political deployment or political compensation. “The municipality must explain why they were hired.”
Municipal manager, S’bu Khuzwayo, said the appointment of bodyguards was at the “core of the confidential employer-employee relationship which is underpinned by relevant labour legislation”.
“I will therefore provide relevant information to SAPS and to your organisation upon a formal application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, Act 02 of 2000.”
Violence monitor Mary de Haas said that Khuzwayo’s silence was part of a “creeping culture of secrecy on the part of government, which was unacceptable”.
She said that some of the guns used in the Richmond violence at the time had been supplied by security operatives integrated into the National Intelligence Agency.
“It stands to reason that these networks were continuing and are operating as security or bodyguards… which was probably why the men were hired,” she said.
De Haas said that the bodyguards, who had a history of violence, should not have been hired and should not be allowed to carry guns.
A DA councillor at the municipality, Sbongiseni Majola, said that when the party had questioned Jelal’s appointment as a bodyguard, they were told he was just a driver and was needed because of his skills.
He said hiring the men, posed a danger to the community at large, which was reflected in the shooting incident.