Deputy mayor on murder charges still being paid
THE deputy mayor of uMzinyathi municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, Felamandla Mkhize, who is in police custody facing two murder charges is still earning a monthly salary.
He is facing charges of murder related to the killings of fellow National Freedom Party (NFP) councillors Bongani Shelembe of Msinga and Isaac Nhlebela of Nquthu. Nhlebela was chairman of the Nquthu constituency in Umzinyathi district and was gunned down near Hazeldene farm at Nquthu on July 6.
Mkhize has been in custody since July, but taxpayers are still paying his full salary with all other benefits.
Municipal spokesman Jeff Hassan yesterday confirmed that Mkhize was still on the council's payroll.
"While the matter is sub judice to talk about, it is however safe to say that yes, he is still on the municipal payroll," Hassan said.
Hassan explained that shortly after Mkhize was arrested in July, they received a letter from his lawyer warning them that it would be improper to summarily suspend him or his salary until the court has found him guilty. He said they had not received a directive from the NFP that they had suspended Mkhize.
"Based on the letter, our hands are tied. We can't really do anything because we can be sued.
"We have to keep him on our payroll until such time that the court has ruled on the charges against him," he said.
NFP general secretary Nhlanhla Khubisa could neither confirm nor deny the suspension of Mkhize.
"We will make a pronouncement on that by the end of the week," Khubisa said.
Provincial department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs spokesman Lennox Mabaso said they were following up the matter.
"All our actions in the first place are guided by the constitution which presumes that everyone is innocent until found guilty," Mabaso said.
Mkhize, a senior NFP leader in the uMzinyathi district, and fellow councillor Mkhonzeni Ntuli are also facing two additional attempted murder charges.
Last month, 28-year-old Khawulani Mkhize who participated in a murder linked to a "scramble for positions" in the NFP, was sentenced to 18 years after pleading guilty to the murder of Nhlebela.
He told the court that he had been hired by the deputy mayor to transport the killers. He did not personally take part in shooting Nhlebela. Mkhize said he had approached the deputy mayor in June, asking for a job. He said at the time that he was willing to do any job because his family was starving.