Newcastle mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba. Picture: Supplied

Durban - The murder charges against Newcastle mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba who is also the regional chairperson of eMalahleni ANC region, have been withdrawn. 

Mahlaba was accused of being behind the 2016 killing of Wandile Ngobeni, an ANC youth league leader in the region who was shot while in a local shisanyama with political friends who survived the fatal gun assault. He vehemently denied the charge, saying it was aimed at tarnishing his name and to get him out of political office.

It emerged in court on Thursday that one of the State witnesses of has died and four others told the court that they were forced by the police to implicate Mahlaba. 

The deceased witness is Martin Sithole who was shot dead in May this year while with a friend, Buthanani Shange (also killed in the shooting) in the city centre of Newcastle.

This frees the mayor to return to work after appearing before the embattled Madadeni Regional Magistrate's Court on Thursday. 

Mahlaba was suspended by the ANC in KZN on June 10 this year, with the party asking him to step aside until he clears his name.

When the party fired former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede on Monday, Mahlaba was spared from the political gallows after the party’s provincial executive committee failed to agree on what should be done. 

* More details to follow. 

Political Bureau