Police Minister Bheki Cele
Durban - A NEWCASTLE mayoral aspirant has accused the police task force set up to investigate political killings in KwaZulu-Natal of standing in the way of his getting the job.

Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, chairperson of the ANC’s Emalahleni region, claimed the task team was involved in a conspiracy with his political rivals to link him to the murder of Wandile Ngubeni, who was gunned down in 2016. Ngubeni, popularly known as “Manqasha”, was the deputy chairperson of the ANC Youth League in the ANC region.

Mahlaba, a medical doctor, has laid a complaint against police officers in the task team with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

In an affidavit handed to Ipid and seen by the Sunday Tribune, Mahlaba requested an investigation into the conduct of the officers, who he alleged assaulted and tortured one of his friends and a member of the party in an attempt to force them to implicate him in the murder of Ngubeni.

“I have reason to believe that the police officers have since 2016 been involved in a conspiracy against me to create false charges against me and defeat the ends of justice to embarrass me politically,” said Mahlaba in his affidavit.

“They appear to have upped the ante recently to pursue a false arrest of me to embarrass me prior to my imminent inauguration as the mayor of Newcastle.”

The position of mayor was made vacant by the resignation of advocate Makhosini Nkosi last month.

In his affidavit, Mahlaba named a police officer and a political rival who he claimed were behind a plot to have him arrested. He further claimed his political opponent had often bragged of having close ties with Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Mahlaba said his friend and the party member were detained and assaulted recently and were released following a high court order. Cases of kidnapping, attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice had been opened against the police officers.

“I am informed that while they (his friend and the party member) were being held on insufficient evidence, they were severely assaulted and tortured to falsely implicate me in the killing of the deceased (Ngubeni) and sign false statements about me,” Mahlaba said in his affidavit.

He said the police officers appeared to have acted with impunity and without respect for the law and basic human rights.

Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed the complaint by Mahlaba and said the directorate was investigating other, similar complaints against the task team, in which members of the task team were accused of assault and torture in other parts of KwaZulu-Natal. “The investigations have just started,” said Dlamini.

Spokesperson for Cele, Reneilue Serero, said: “Minister Cele has in no way or form used his influence over the task team. Instead, he is satisfied with the work being done thus far by the team, and is confident that more investigations will be (completed) by the team and... perpetrators (of political killings will be ) brought to book.”

KZN ANC spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane said the party was discussing the redeployment of an official as mayor and was not aware of complaints made against the task team.

“Once the matter has been finalised, (the) deployment of a new mayor will be discussed by the deployment committee and the leadership of the region will be informed once that has been done.”

Sunday Tribune