Former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa was assassinated in September 2017. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA) Two other whistle-blowers who blew the lid on corruption and maladministration in Umzimkhulu fear for their lives. File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/ANA Pictures

Durban – One of the men who blew the whistle on alleged corruption at uMzimkhulu municipality - which he said led to the assassination of Sindiso Magaqa - has called the arrest of the African National Congress mayor implicated in the case a victory.

“We view this as a victory in our fight against corruption and political... killings,” Thabiso Zulu told the African News Agency (ANA) on Sunday. Nevertheless, the arrest was being “cautiously” celebrated, he said.

“[We know that] political gangsters and their hit men are not going to give up without a fight. They will hire the best of lawyers, intimidate or kill witnesses, and do more in order to avoid accounting to justice for their acts,” Zulu said. 

Harry Gwala district municipality mayor and former African National Congress provincial deputy secretary Mluleki Ndobe was questioned by police on Saturday and subsequently arrested. Considered a senior and influential ANC member, he sits on the party’s powerful provincial working committee.

Zulu - an ANC member and friend of Magaqa’s - went public with allegations of corruption at the former ANC Youth League secretary general’s funeral in 2017. Together with government employee Les Stuta, the men alleged that Magaqa was assassinated because he had discovered multi-million rand corruption within uMzimkhulu municipality. uMzimkhulu is a local municipality that falls under the Harry Gwala district municipality.

Zulu told ANA he and Stuta had put their lives and those of their families “at serious risk” to expose allegations of corruption contained in documents Magaqa gave to them before his death.

Magaqa – a PR councillor at uMzimkhulu at the time of his death - was shot alongside colleagues Nontsikelelo Mafa and Jabu Msiya in July 2017, and died in September 2017 due to “complications from multiple gunshot wounds”. Mafa and Msiya both survived the ambush and were placed under state protection.

In September 2017, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) announced one of the suspects allegedly involved in Magaqa’s killing, Jabulani Mdunge, 38, who lived between Durban’s Berea and a KwaMashu hostel, was killed in a shoot-out with police on the N2 between Kokstad and Harding after being linked to a cash-in-transit robbery.

In September last year, 30-year-old Sibusiso Malusi Ncengwa was arrested for his alleged involvement in Magaqa’s murder and the attempted murders of  Mafa and Msiya. He is currently awaiting trial.

Zulu testified at the Moerane Commission of Inquiry – established to investigate the underlying causes of political killings in the province - which ended last year.

He told ANA that his appearance uncovered more “enemies”, even though he provided the three-panel commission with "indisputable evidence" that corruption was at the heart of political killings in KwaZulu-Natal and that “some senior leaders were masterminds” behind the murders.

“We commend the police task team for the arrests, and plead with the National Prosecuting Authority to make sure that convictions are secured in these matters. We remain defiant and resolute in the face of death; political corruption must be defeated no matter who is involved in it,” said Zulu.

In a statement on Sunday, the ANC KwaZulu-Natal leadership said it noted “with shock” Ndobe’s arrest. “At this point, the leadership is striving to ascertain more details in relation to the matter and will update the media as and when concrete information is available,” the statement said.

Ndobe is expected to appear in court within the next 48 hours.  

African News Agency/ANA