A court has heard that Dumisani Malunga died because he was a stumbling block to Sifison Khumalo's (pictured) election as a ward councillor.

KwaZulu-Natal - Dumisani Malunga died because he was in his killer’s way. As the ANC chairman in the Oshabeni, Port Shepstone area, he was a “stumbling block” to Sifiso Khumalo’s election as a ward councillor.

Khumalo, an ANC Youth League branch leader, pleaded guilty in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday to the murder of Malunga on September 9. It was a low-key appearance, in stark contrast to his appearance last week in Port Shepstone when a crowd of ANC supporters gathered outside the court shouting threats at him.

While the ANC branch secretary, Bheko Chiliza, was also killed during the shooting, Khumalo was not charged with his murder as it had never been his intention to kill him.

Khumalo, a taxi driver, said in his plea that he and Malunga were among four ANC members vying for the position of ward councillor. “A fellow ANC member, Samuel Cele, had proposed my candidacy for the vacant ANC ward councillor position and he was responsible for canvassing support in my favour. About two weeks before [Malunga] was killed, Cele informed me that the deceased was a stumbling block to my election as a ward councillor.

“Cele suggested that the deceased should be killed and I agreed…” he said.

On the day of the murder, Khumalo met Cele and another man known to him as Alex. While sitting in Cele’s minibus taxi, the trio formulated a plan to kill Malunga. Cele would point out Malunga to Alex, who would do the shooting.

Cele then drove the men to the vicinity of Malunga’s home. Khumalo remained in the taxi while the other two got out.

“Cele told me that he would call me on my cellphone to pick them up after they had killed the deceased,” he said, adding that he drove away to wait for the call. Half-an-hour later he was telephoned to fetch his accomplices, who told him that they had also shot another man who was in Malunga’s company. He later discovered that this was Chiliza.

Taking the stand, Khumalo outlined his personal circumstances as reasons why he should not be handed a life sentence.

Among them were that he had always been employed, and had three children who relied on him for financial support. He said that he had earned R2 000 a month as a taxi driver.

His attorney, Irshad Khan, submitted that Khumalo had played a minimal role in the offence, accepted liability, and expressed remorse.

Also, Khumalo did not wasted the court’s time as he decided to plead guilty and agreed to testify against his accomplices. “All the factors indicate that my client has redeeming qualities to justify a lesser sentence,” he said.

While State advocate Mbongeni Mthembu conceded that there were mitigating factors in this case, he asked that Khumalo be sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment. “The accused not only caused the death of Malunga, but due to his actions, an innocent life was taken,” he said.

Sentencing takes place on Tuesday.

Cele has also been arrested for the murders and will go on trial as he has indicated he will be pleading not guilty. - The Mercury