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Eastern Cape cop appears in court in connection with Fort Hare university murders


An Eastern Cape police officer has appeared in court in connection with the murders and attempted assassinations of University Fort Hare staff. File Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jul 31, 2023


An Eastern Cape police officer who was arrested last week, has appeared in court for the murders of two University of Fort Hare (UFH) staff members and the attempted murder of vice-chancellor and principal Sakhela Buhlungu.

The 31-year-old Mthatha police Constable Lindokuhle Manjati of Madeira police station in the Eastern Cape appeared in the Alice Magistrate's Court on Monday after his arrest last Friday.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali confirmed his appearance, saying that Manjati was remanded in custody until his bail application on August 10.

Manjati is believed to have driven the hitmen to carry out the murders of UFH fleet manager Petrus Roets and Buhlungu's bodyguard Mboneli Vesele.

This brings the number of people arrested for the Fort Hare attacks to six.

The accused Sicelo Mbulawa, Mthobisi Khanyile, and Mthobisi Dlamini Zondo’s bid for bail was denied, while their co-accused Bongani Peter and Wanini Khuza abandoned bail.

During the bail application, the court heard about a hit list with the names of 13 people.

IOL previously reported that a bounty of R5 million was allegedly issued for the murder of VC Buhlungu; R350,000 for fleet manager Roets, who was killed last year; and R3 million for another senior university member.

All five accused have denied the allegations levelled against them.

Msingathi Langa, a crucial state witness against the accused died in a suspicious car crash on April 30, just three months after Vesele’s murder.

Vesele was shot and killed while in the professor’s vehicle earlier this year.

A national police multi-disciplinary team was deployed in the Eastern Cape to probe the spate of attacks.

The attacks have been linked to a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe, launched last year, following forensic work conducted by the university.

The SIU had stepped in as investigators did not have the statutory powers to probe allegations of corrupt and unlawful activities between 2012 and 2022, with a specific focus on procurement irregularities in the cleaning and gardening services between 2012 and 2019; leasing of student accommodation since 2013; the appointment of a service provider for the maintenance and repair of air-conditioning systems in 2018; and collusion between officials and suppliers or service providers.