School hit accused turns State witness

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SA Democratic Teachers Union members filled the courtroom in uMlazi during the bail application by three Education Department officials charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the killing of a school principal last year. Picture: Patrick Mtolo

Durban - One of the men charged with the murder of a South Coast teacher has turned primary State witness in the conspiracy to commit murder case against two school principals, a district director and a former principal.

This emerged in the uMlazi Magistrate’s Court during the bail application on Monday.

Mfundi Sibiya, 54, a Department of Education district director in the Ugu district, Lindani Mkhize, 40, a principal at Gobhela Primary School, Mhlengi Luthuli, 38, a principal at Bonguzwane High School, and Xolani Myeza, 38, a former school principal, are alleged to have conspired with each other by instructing Andile Zulu and Lungisani Makhoba to kill Nkosinathi Zondi, who was a principal at Nyonemhlophe High School on the South Coast.

Zondi was shot by two men at his uMlazi home last May, and Ndolile Shezi, Zulu, Makhoba and Sandile Mzizi were arrested and charged with murder.

Charges against Shezi and Mzizi were withdrawn this year. Zulu and Makhoba were refused bail, and in their case a decision by the director of public prosecutions is awaited.

Mzizi, who was a school governing body chairman at Khathi High School near Hibberdene, had been accused of organising the hit on Zondi and, according to the investigating officer, Xolani Mlungwana, Mzizi has since turned State witness.

In his evidence in chief, Mlungwana said Zondi had been shot five times and had died at the scene.

“Applicant one (Sibiya) approached a middleman and informed him that Zondi must be killed as he was causing more problems… He (Sibiya) mentioned the problems were corruption and the deceased (Zondi) was going to expose applicant two (Mkhize),” he said.

Mlungwana said Mkhize, Luthuli and Myeza contributed money to the hit men and Myeza was given R12 000 to pay the middleman, who was identified in court as Mzizi.

Myeza “used his car to take the two hit men to identify the deceased’s house”.

Mlungwana said the accused knew 99 percent of the witnesses in the case and was constantly contacted by them begging him to make sure the men did not get bail as the witnesses feared for their lives.

“Sibiya was the mastermind behind the entire murder because if he didn’t order that Zondi be killed, nothing was going to happen.”

During cross-examination by Sibiya’s attorney, Ben Dlamini, it emerged that most of the information Mlungwana had came from the middleman.

Mlungwana confirmed that Mzizi was the State witness.

Dlamini told the court he had been Mzizi’s attorney and had had great difficulty finding him before his arrest in December.

“Since July last year you were looking for Mzizi, he was on the run and he would not hand himself over as per our agreement with you at the time. He was reported to have been in several places on the run, then you arrest him and all of a sudden, he gives you a story about other people involved,” Dlamini said.

Mlungwana pleaded with the court not to grant the four men bail as he feared that Mzizi’s life would be in danger.

“If this witness dies, this case is finished; it is over.”

The bail application continues on Friday.

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