THREE men, including a senior ranking official from Alfred Duma Local Municipality, in Ladysmith, were arrested in connection with the murder of municipal executive Oscar Hlatshwayo in February. Picture: Ladysmith Herald / Claudine Senekal
Durban - Three men, including a senior ranking official from Alfred Duma Local Municipality, in Ladysmith, were arrested in connection with the murder of municipal executive Oscar Hlatshwayo in February.

The men, two of them alleged to be hitmen hired by the senior municipal official, appeared briefly in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court earlier this week and are expected back in court on Wednesday and Thursday for a formal bail application.

A well-placed source said the trio would be held at Westville Prison until their next court appearance.

“This shocked the municipality as no one expected that a senior official, who is Hlatshwayo’s co-worker, could be implicated in the murder. It is understood that one of the hitmen hired by the accused is from Durban. All will be revealed in court when they apply for bail,” said the source.

Hlatshwayo, executive director of engineering and infrastructure services at the municipality at the time of his death, was killed in a hail of bullets on Francis Road, Ladysmith, after dropping off his two children at school on February 7. He was driving his Jaguar when he was ambushed.

Some employees had described Hlatshwayo as someone “strict” - who followed procedure in everything he did - and who took his job very seriously.

The special task team appointed to investigate political killings in KwaZulu-Natal, headed by Police Minister Bheki Cele, had called in a number of people for questioning.

One of them was an ANC Youth League leader in the Ukhahlamba region.

At the time, ANC regional chairperson Nhlanhla Nkosi had said: “We understand he (Youth League leader) was taken in by the police and he has not been answering his phone, so we don’t have the details as yet. He may have been taken in for questioning or was arrested. We don’t know as yet.”

Yesterday, Sfiso Mdakane, ANC acting regional secretary said they would release a statement early next week.

Cele’s spokesperson Reneilwe Serero confirmed the arrests, but could not provide further details.

Alfred Duma Municipal Manager Sxolile Ngiba said she had not received a report from the police on the matter.

Municipal spokesperson Siya Maphalala said they were still gathering all the details of the arrest and would then release a statement.

He confirmed that one of the men arrested was a municipal employee. When he was called back later yesterday, his phone was on voicemail, and he did not return a text message sent to him.

Hlatshwayo’s widow, Zinhle, also an employee at the same municipality, said it was too soon for the family to comment on the arrests.

“I want to give the police space to deal with investigations and arrests. Only in the finality of the matter will I be able to express my feelings on it.”.

Daily News