DURBAN - ANC leader and Harry Gwala district mayor Mluleki Ndobe has alleged the murder and attempted murder charges against him are politically motivated.
Ndobe spoke to the media yesterday after the charges were provisionally withdrawn against him and Zweliphansi Sikhosana, Umzimkhulu municipal manager.
This was when Ndobe, Sikhosana, businessman Mbulelo Mpofana, Sbonelo Myeza and Mlungisi Ncalane appeared in the Umzimkhulu Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The murder and attempted murder charges relate to the death of ANC councillor Sindiso Magaqa in 2017 and the attempted murders of Jabulile Stela Msiya and Nontsikelelo Mafa.
The five were to apply for bail yesterday, but Ndobe and Sikhosana were told they could go free after the State announced it was provisionally withdrawing the charges against them because of insufficient evidence.
Prosecutor Sohana Moodley said the charges were provisionally withdrawn because she was not satisfied with the evidence against the men.
“There was evidence that I was waiting for and I have determined that the evidence we have is not strong enough to justify keeping the accused incarcerated,” she told the court.
The news shocked the supporters of the Magaqa family, while Ndobe’s supporters cheered.
Ndobe told the media he was upset with being charged and would be engaging with his lawyers and the ANC on the way forward.
“About the case, I have mixed feelings. I am very emotional and angry about it. You can accuse me of anything, but not murder and conspiracy to commit murder,” he said.
He told his supporters outside the courthouse that he was a victim of a political conspiracy.
“We know all about this political conspiracy. We will not say much about that. Some of us have been followed by the Hawks for the past five years and some of us have been followed by the Special Investigations Unit.
“We have been accused, but we knew that we are innocent,” he said.
Sikhosana declined to comment.
His legal representative, D Moodley SC, told the court: “While we welcome the withdrawal of the charges, we have to put on record the conduct of the State in this matter.
“That the charges are being provisionally withdrawn while the State had intended to oppose bail is an indication that the State has little or no evidence against my client,” he said.
This view was echoed by Ndobe’s representative, Avril Potgieter SC, who agreed that they were not happy with the State’s behaviour.
“My client was incarcerated on March 16 and the charges were dropped on March 25.”
Lawyers for the other accused asked for bail applications to be postponed to today, saying they believed the charges against their clients could be withdrawn as well.
As the news filtered through wild celebrations broke out outside the courthouse.
“This is unbelievable. When we came here we did not expect this. We never believed Ndobe was responsible for this and what happened in court proves that,” said a man who described himself as an “employee of Harry Gwala district”.
Lwazi Magaqa, Magaqa’s brother, said the withdrawal of the charges spelled doom for the entire case.
“When the announcement was made I was stunned.
“How is it possible that the State could arrest someone and then turn around and release them because there is no evidence.
“The charges may have been provisionally withdrawn, but who is going to follow up to make sure they are reinstated? It is clear this case is dying.”