Mystery of IFP men in jail deepens

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

KwaZulu-Natal IFP councillor Freeman Maphumulo - who was released after allegedly being taken in for questioning by plainclothes policemen on Thursday night - says he fears for his life.

Maphumulo says he was one of five IFP councillors on the province's South Coast who were allegedly arrested at their respective homes on Thursday night by policemen who identified themselves as members of the Crime Intelligence Unit from Port Shepstone.

Police have denied any knowledge of the arrests. Instead they are now concerned that the men might have been kidnapped by people posing as police.

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Maphumulo said his colleagues are now in Westville Prison. They are Layidliva Mbuthuma and S'phiwe Mbonwa from Mzwabantu Council, and Elton Mkhize and Gobo Zulu from Ezingolweni. They all appeared in the Pinetown magistrates' court yesterday.

They are facing charges of intimidation and conspiracy to murder. The charges allegedly relate to a plan to kill Mayor Amos Mpisi, a former IFP mayor who crossed the floor at the eleventh hour to join the ANC.

Charges against Mkhize and one other IFP leader were dropped because of a lack of evidence. The men will appear in court again next month.

"What is even worse is that no police station is aware that the men were arrested even though they appeared in court," Maphumulo said.

He said he was having supper with his family when three alleged policemen arrived at his home.

"The men, in plain clothes, produced police ID cards and said they wanted to take me in for questioning. They did not say why they wanted to question me, but I later heard it was about a plan to kill Mayor Amos Mpisi," he said.

IFP national executive member Velaphi Ndlovu categorically rejected allegations that the men had planned to kill Mpisi.

"This is nothing more than political manipulation. The ANC is using its power to intimidate and harass IFP leaders. The SAPS is acting like the old apartheid regime by not revealing where these IFP men are being kept. It is truly shocking. We want them released immediately," Ndlovu said.

Police spokesman Superintendent Zandra Hechter said there were no records of any arrests.

Hechter referred queries to the province's communication's office.