File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s top legal guns will duel it out before eSwatini’s high court in a sensational trial in May in which businessman Sipho Shongwe is accused of murdering telecoms tycoon and sports administrator Victor Gamedze, the Times of Swaziland has reported.

Two bullets to the side of the head ended Gamedze's life as he pulled into a petrol station in Ezulwini in January last year. He had just watched his team Mbabane Swallows beat rivals Manzini Wanderers.

The wealthy football fan was a close associate of eSwatini’s absolute monarch King Mswati III and had made a long list of both friends and enemies.

Shongwe, who was arrested earlier this year, has been charged by the eSwatini authorities with arranging for three hitmen to carry out the murder. Two of the alleged murderers are South African and reportedly fled back over the border after the killing.

Both businessmen developed a questionable reputation by allegedly using mafia-style tactics and were arch rivals, according to Swazi media.

The Crown has hired senior counsel Michael Hellens, who represented former South African President Jacob Zuma during his corruption trial, to ensure that Shongwe remains behind bars. He also represented Zuma’s son Duduzane in his culpable homicide trial and has also represented the controversial Gupta family in South Africa.

Shongwe, meanwhile, has hired another top South African lawyer Laurence Hodes in his bid to escape a murder conviction.

Hodes has handled a number of high profile cases including charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering against the EFF’s Julius Malema in relation to the R52 million contract with the Limpopo Roads and Transport department. 

Hodes was also responsible for getting charges dismissed against Glenn Agliotti - who faced two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, one of attempted murder and a murder charge. Two of these charges related to mining magnate Brett Kebble’s death.

The advocate also represented South Africa's ruling ANC's Buffalo City regional secretary Phumlani Mkolo who was charged in connection with fraud.

The reasons behind Gamedze’s murder remain unclear although  there have been reports of him receiving death threats and issuing some in turn.

The Mail & Guardian reported last year that there had been talk about Gamedze revolving around his new mobile phone company Swazi Mobile, a competitor for MTN Swaziland which previously had a monopoly in the country.

Swazi Mobile was established through corrupt means, according to Zweli Martin Dlamini, a newspaper editor who doubles as a private investigator and fled to South Africa in mid-December 2017 after allegedly receiving a death threat from Gamedze.

African News Agency (ANA)