Johannesburg - Fikile Mbalula, the ANC secretary-general, promised justice for Mkhondo councillor Sibonelo Mthembu Ntshangase and two others who were brutally murdered.
Mbalula visited a number of places within the Mkhondo Municipality in Mpumalanga’s Gert Sibande region following the recent spate of killings in the area that are suspected to be politically motivated.
The latest ANC leader to be killed in the area is Mthembu Ntshangase, 36, who was a local councillor for Ward 12. Sizwe Mbingo, 40, and Sandile Khumalo, 51, were gunned down in Longhomes Township in Mkhondo on Friday, January 13.
This killing happened hardly two months after the assassination of another local leader who was also a councillor, as well as being Gert Sibande regional deputy chairperson, Muzi Manyathi.
“Thugs have penetrated Mkhondo; they are under the impression that they will intimidate us by killing our comrades, but they found us standing. We express our condolences to the families. I want to thank the police and Minister Bheki Cele for an outstanding job. Cele told me more arrests will be made,” said Mbalula.
He further said: “We must stamp the authority of the state. It should be clear that the ANC is in charge. It is important that the municipality is protected because these corrupt officials, who are criminals, were kicked out, and we now must deliver services to the people and not work for our stomachs.”
Mthembu Ntshangase recorded a video of himself that is still viral, and he named two people, including former Mkhondo Municipality mayor Vusi Motha, also known as “Sgemegeme”, as being someone whom he believed would be responsible for his murder, as well as others.
Mthembu Ntshangase, who is running for local government in 2021, spoke out against corruption in the municipality.
In the video, Ntshangase is heard saying: “Comrades, we are in a crisis. At Mkhondo, we are facing a corrupt person called Sgemegeme; he is killing us now, and the reason for killing us is that we stood up and said he didn’t assist Mkhondo (did not deliver services).
“I want you, the people, to know that if I die, I would have been killed by Vusi Motha. He recently killed another member. He behaves as if Mkhondo is his personal house, but it’s not his house, and that will never happen. We are going to die and leave behind our young children.
“For the past five years, he was making our lives hell. Even you, Simelane, the executive mayor, are working together with Sgemegeme to kill us because we said ‘enough’; just as Mkhondo has been the victim of corruption.
“We are begging you guys to stop with the guns; let’s do politics; don’t kill us. I am aware I am on Sgemegeme’s hit list.”
Ntshangase’s sister (name unknown), speaking in an interview with one of the broadcasters, said the family were distraught.
“We, as the family, are very distraught and we are saddened by his sudden death. It is unbelievable, and this is a shock to our family. We are not going to drop names, but as a family, we were aware of the video circulating on social media where my brother mentioned the threat to his life, which was very disturbing,” she said.
Yesterday (Wednesday), Mpumalanga police announced that a third suspect in connection with the murder had been arrested.
The 40-year-old suspect, who hails from uMbumbulu in KwaZulu-Natal, will appear at Piet Retief Magistrate’s Court today (Thursday)to face charges of murder.
On Tuesday, police announced that two suspects, aged 52 and 43, were arrested; they appeared at Piet Retief Magistrate’s Court in connection with the murder of the three men.
Samwu expressed concern over the increasing number of political killings involving the ANC in Mpumalanga.
“As a union, we learned with disappointment what is transpiring in the local municipality of Mkhondo. However, we are a bit better after the arrest that took place of two suspects.
“We hope that will bring some light after the continuation of the killing of comrades in that locality,” said Samwu provincial secretary Sam Lekhuleni in an interview with one of the broadcasters.
Lekhuleni further said: “Our view is that these are political killings and Mthembu Ntshangase was targeted due to that video circulating on media platforms. The law enforcement must at least act swiftly so that they can arrest those who are part of this thing and bring them to book.
“We don’t doubt that he was intentionally assassinated over political issues that are taking place in that area of Mkhondo.”