Now mayor linked to kidnapping

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Mpumalanga police are investigating the possible involvement of Bushbuckridge executive mayor Milton Morema in a dramatic kidnapping.

John Sekgobela of Greenvalley near Acornhoek has laid a charge of kidnapping after more than 10 men allegedly kidnapped him on Sunday.

Sekgobela claims to have been a close friend of Jeffrey Sedibe, 23, who was murdered in 2003.

Morema, his cousin Lakios Mosoma and Erasmus Makhubele were arrested in connection with the murder in April this year.

Charges against the three were thrown out of court after senior magistrate George Risimati accepted a submission by their defence lawyer, Mpho Mashiloane, that the arrests were politically motivated.

"Politicians must stop using the courts as political battlefields," Risimati said before dismissing the charges in the Acornhoek magistrate's court on May 27.

The three faced charges of murdering Sedibe, whom they had apparently hired to kill a teacher, Motion Mashile. But they reneged on paying him R17000.

Mashile was said to have been Morema's political rival but Mashiloane dismissed this, saying he was never a politician.

The court's dismissal of the charges fuelled anger in Mashile and Sedibe families.

On Monday the United Democratic Movement, Mashile and Sedibe families, African People's Convention, churches and their pastors, local businesspeople and members of the Bushbuckridge community called for the reinstatement of the case during a demonstration.

Sekgobela was recruiting people for the march on Sunday when armed men allegedly kidnapped him.

"I was blindfolded and assaulted but released at Inyaka Dam in Bushbuckridge after someone said the police had been warned about the kidnapping," Sekgobela said.

Captain Leonard Hlathi of the police's organised crime unit confirmed a case of kidnapping was being investigated.

But he could not confirm if Sekgobela had been a witness against Morema.