Ex-municipal manager in the dock

THE former Mbombela municipal manager, who was arrested in connection with the murder of a man he accused of stealing from his home, has appeared in the Barberton magistrate's court.

The suspect, Bruno Vilane, 44, pictured, was not asked to plead to charges of murder with aggravating circumstances on Monday.

He was remanded into custody pending his next court appearance tomorrow, when he will be expected to make a formal bail application.

Police arrested Vilane at his home on Saturday after Benjamin Ncongwane, 30, of Umjindi Extension 10 was admitted to the Barberton Hospital with third degree burns.

Before Ncongwane died he allegedly told police that Vilane had poured petrol over him before setting him alight on Christmas Day.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said Vilane had earlier gone to the local police station with Ncongwane, where he told the police he wanted the suspect to show him where he had hidden his belongings. Vilane reportedly had no intention of laying a charge.

"Hours later we received information that a man had been admitted to hospital with third degree burns," Hlathi said.

"When officers arrived at the hospital the victim told them who had set him alight. He died hours later. "

Vilane had allegedly investigated a noise he heard in his home early on Christmas Day. He is believed to have recognised one of the cars that raced from the scene.

He allegedly tracked down the car owner and forced him to accompany him to the police station.

Meanwhile, Mpumalanga community safety MEC Sibongile Manana yesterday blamed Ncongwane's death on the police's failure to act vigilantly.

Manana said the police should have accompanied Vilane and Ncongwane to show them where the alleged stolen items were.