more woes for mayor facing murder charge
Bushbuckridge executive mayor Milton Morema could be rearrested following allegations that he bribed the family of the main state witness with food in an attempt to prevent the witness from giving evidence against him.
Although the spokesman for the Mpumalanga organised crime unit, Captain Leonard Hlathi, reluctantly confirmed the allegations, Sowetan can reveal that detectives from the unit met the family of Calvin Mzimba at Acornhoek and took statements from his family members on Sunday night.
Mzimba is a key witness in the case in which Morema, Lakios Mosoma and Erasmus Makhubele are facing charges relating to a murder that was committed in 2003.
Hlathi said the three allegedly hired Jeffrey Sedibe to kill a teacher, Motion Mashile, whom police claimed was Morema's political rival.
They allegedly promised to pay Sedibe R17000 but allegedly only paid him R5000, after which they killed him when he demanded the balance and buried his body in a secret grave at Masoyi Cemetery near Hazyview.
Police arrested the three on April 10 after receiving information about the alleged murder and exhumed the body they believed to be that of Sedibe two days later.
The three accused were first taken to the Nelspruit magistrate's court on April 11, but the court refused to handle the matter, saying it did not have jurisdiction since the dramatic arrest had taken place in Acornhoek - about 140km away.
They had to spend the weekend behind bars and only started applying for bail the following Monday, this time in the Bushbuckridge magistrate's court where the application was partially heard.
Senior magistrate George Risimati presided over the hearing but ordered that it be finalised the following day at the Acornhoek magistrate's court where he granted them R10000 bail each.
"The magistrate clearly put it to the accused that they should not, either directly or indirectly, interact with witnesses before the matter was finalised. So it is against the court order for any of the accused to speak to any of the witnesses," Hlathi said yesterday.
Beka Mkhari, the mother of Sedibe, told Sowetan that Morema did not directly give her the food but had sent a neighbour.
"I've been looking for the neighbour since then so as to find out for sure if this food really came from the mayor as I've been informed," said Mkhari.