Nkambule case attracts interest

MPUMALANGA is eagerly waiting for the start of the trial of controversial Cope chairperson in Ehlanzeni and former ANCYL provincial chairperson James Nkambule.

The trial will start at the Nelspruit regional court on July 28, when Nkambule will face charges of defeating the ends of justice, incitement, conspiracy to commit a crime and fraud.

He was released on R8000 bail after his arrest on March 25.

Nkambule's arrest was related to an alleged hit list with the names of politicians - including that of Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala, who was shot dead in January last year, and Mbombela executive mayor Lassy Chiwayo.

The arrest was also related to a man named "Josh", an alleged Mozambican assassin who "confessed" to killing Mohlala and others.

"Josh" allegedly claimed in media reports to have been paid by a top Mpumalanga politician to kill political opponents. But most politicians in the province believe Nkambule made "Josh" up and have questioned his existence.

The case has attracted the attention of a number of high-profile people, including politicians and businessmen, who are regarded as fans of Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza.

This became apparent when they attended Nkambule's heavily guarded court appearance last Thursday.

They included Welcome Nkuna, the security manager of the Mpumalanga government, Michael Mabuza, the premier's brother, businessman Thabo Theledi, whose name was on the infamous hit list, and Mabutho Sithole, the premier's spokesperson.

"We are eagerly awaiting the start of the trial because this man (Nkambule) has made many defamatory allegations against the premier," one of Mabuza's supporters said. "The case will provide answers to a number of mysteries and our premier's good name will be cleared."

Nkambule was once quoted by a Sunday newspaper as saying Mabuza was behind the murder of politicians in the province, which prompted the court to bar him from speaking to the media again until the trial has ended.