NPA 'satisfied' about withdrawing murder charge against KZN mayor

Harry Gwala District Mayor Mluleki Ndobe with his wife, Nobuhle Ndobe, outside Umzimkhulu Magistrate's Court on Monday. The state withdrew a charge of murder and two counts of attempted murder against him.
Harry Gwala District Mayor Mluleki Ndobe with his wife, Nobuhle Ndobe, outside Umzimkhulu Magistrate's Court on Monday. The state withdrew a charge of murder and two counts of attempted murder against him.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

The head of the National Prosecuting Authority in KwaZulu-Natal said she was satisfied with the decision to withdraw murder and attempted murder charges against a provincial mayor.

Advocate Moipone Noko said a report from two top prosecutors showed there was insufficient evidence in the murder case against Harry Gwala district municipality mayor Mluleki Ndobe. 

Noko said the prosecutors concluded that, based on the evidence given to them by police, there was no prospect of a successful prosecution.

On March 17, the Hawks arrested Ndobe in connection with the 2017 murder of former ANC Youth League leader Sindiso Magaqa and the attempted murder of two of Magaqa's colleagues, who were with him when his vehicle was riddled with bullets.

When Ndobe appeared in the Umzimkhulu Magistrate's Court on Monday, control prosecutor Sohana Moodley told the court that the state was provisionally withdrawing the charges against Ndobe and his co-accused, Zweliphansi Skhosana.

"I got a report from the actions chief prosecutor and the regional control prosecutor, which said the case had to be withdrawn because they did not have sufficient evidence," said Noko.

She added that both prosecutors were experienced and that she trusted their call to provisionally withdraw the charges until police returned with further evidence.

"The charges are only provisionally withdrawn and the case is still on the court roll ... It is up to the police," she said.

When asked whether the NPA was consulted before Ndobe, a top ANC leader in the province, was arrested, Noko said the NPA did not make arrests.

"The police have to now go and do further investigations," she said.

Noko further rejected any notion that the NPA did not want to take on politically sensitive cases, saying they could not proceed with the case if it lacked evidence.

"On the same day there was a mayor in Newcastle in court. So it is not true," she said.

Noko was referring to the case of Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mhlaba, who was arrested on March 22 in connection with the 2017 murder of former ANC Youth League official Wandile Ngobeni.

Mhlaba will remain behind bars until April 1, when he is expected to apply for bail. 

Noko said the only way the state could avoid similar situations in other cases was if prosecutors guided investigations.

"In most cases where that happens it delivers positive results, because the prosecutor is familiar with the case," she said.

Noko said she would not comment on the merits of the case against Ndobe and said it was up to the police to take the investigation forward.


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