Hunt for killer of witness in case

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Police in KwaZulu-Natal have launched a massive manhunt for the killer of Durban businesswoman Futhi Ncwane - a key state witness in a fraud and corruption case involving more than R10 million.

Ncwane, 38, was gunned down at her home in Mariannhill Park, Pinetown, in front of her two children - Fezile, 12, and Yandisa, 7 - while preparing them for school on Wednesday.

Her family and friends believe her role in the case had led to her murder.

Ncwane was a state witness in a case that implicated senior officials of the provincial department of transport in a tender scam. The case has been in court for more than a year.

Her death came less that two weeks before the case was due in court for a trial date to be set.

It is alleged that Ncwane, whose business was bidding for a government tender, was lured by officials in 2005 to submit a proposal to the department.

Officials allegedly claimed that there was a grant from the department that was to be given to them - but Ncwane was shocked when the officials deposited over R500000 into her business account instead of the R100000 grant she had been promised.

"Last year, Ncwane's life was saved after a petrol attendant noticed that the wheel nuts on her vehicle were loosened," said one business colleague.

Ncwane's estranged husband, Popo Ncwane, said his wife was living in fear after she turned state witness in the case. The couple's divorce hearing was set for January 29.

Police spokesman Vincent Mdunge said police had a programme in place to protect state witnesses and their interests.

"I'm not sure if the deceased had entered the programme - that is still to be established," Mdunge said.