Deputy mayor takes blame over NFP killings
A HIGH-RANKING National Freedom Party official has turned himself in to the police for his alleged involvement in the killings of his comrades.
In a move likely to explain intra-party tensions as the potential cause of some political assassinations in KwaZulu-Natal, the NFP's uMzinyathi deputy mayor turned himself in for arrest.
The party's leadership said yesterday they were thrilled by the latest development, but claimed uMzinyathi was the only area affected by intra-party violence.
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge confirmed a 56-year-old man turned himself in to the police for the murders of party councillors.
"He arrived at the Greytown SAPS and turned himself in to the police for the murders of NFP councillors Tshelembe and Nhlebela.
"He was detained and is due to appear in the Msinga Magistrate'sCourt tomorrow (Wednesday)," Mdunge said.
At least 22 NFP members, including councillors, have been killed since the party was launched by former Inkatha Freedom Party chairwoman Zanele Magwaza-Msibi.
The mayor turned himself in to the police on Monday night.
"As the NFP, we welcome the arrest of our councillor and others. We want to categorically state that all those involved in the murder of our councillors must be kept behind bars no matter who they are," said NFP secretary-general and spokesman Nhlanhla Khubisa.
"We will not condone murder even if it is perpetrated by our members. We also want to emphasise that there is no inter-organisational violence amongst NFP members - except for these incidents atuMzinyathi."
Khubisa said the deputy mayor was suspended with immediate effect.
"Following the murders of our members, we held a meeting with provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonye Ngobeni, where we asked police to thoroughly investigate these killings and we are happy that the meeting is bearing good results," Khubisa said.
He said he was hopeful that the latest arrest would shed light on who was behind the killings and what their motives were.
Two weeks ago, three NFP councillors - Mkhonzeni Ntuli, Nonsindiso Dlamini and Mlindeni Mchunu - and another person, Mzonjani Mgwaba, were arrested in connection with the killings of NFP Msinga municipality constituency chairman and councillor Bongani Shelembe and Lungisile Zuma, the NFP Youth Movement secretary for Msinga.
They appeared in the Msinga Magistrate's Court and the matter was postponed for today.
In May, councillor Tshelembe was returning from a meeting at Tugela Ferry to Keates Drift with Zuma and another person when they came under fire on the R33 Main Road in the Nsongeni area.
Councillor Tshelembe and Zuma were killed on the spot while the passenger in the back seat was seriously wounded.
Earlier this month, councillor Isaac Thulebona Nhlebela was killed in a hail of bullets on the Dundee-Nqutu Road near Hazelmere Farm.
It is alleged that he had stopped his vehicle for his son to open the farm gate when an unknown gunman emerged from the hawkers' shelter and shot him through the open window, killing him instantly. The two other passengers in the vehicle were unhurt.
The murders sparked off widespread speculations that there could be internal problems within the party, but senior leadership denied this, saying the killings were acts of criminality.
This week, the ANC in the province called for the establishment of a special police task team to investigate all politically motivated killings.
Recently, ANC councillor and chief whip in the Hibiscus Coast Municipality, Wandile Mkhize, was killed on his return from the party policy conference in Midrand. His companion, Nhlakanipho Shabane died on Sunday after spending weeks in Margate Hospital.
"We have a mandate to serve and protect the people of our land and we have and will continue to do so without fear or favour. We are crime-fighters and all cases are investigated equally without any bias.
"We have proven once again that, try as they may, criminals cannot escape the long arm of the law," Ngobeni said.