Fort Hare vice-chancellor's bodyguard shot dead in suspected 'assassination attempt'

The University of Fort Hare
The University of Fort Hare
Image: Rod Bally/ File photo

University of Fort Hare vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu’s bodyguard was shot dead in a suspected hit outside Buhlungu’s house in Alice in the Eastern Cape on Friday night.

The university’s spokesperson, JP Roodt, confirmed Mboneli Vesele, Buhlungu’s executive protection officer, was assassinated in the vice-chancellor’s car.

“Prof Buhlungu is unharmed and has been moved to a safe location.”

He said Buhlungu had just returned home after conducting university business when the incident took place.

“Gunfire was opened on the vice-chancellor’s university vehicle and various residents of Alice heard it. The university’s security and protection service division analysed footage and it is clear that an automatic rifle was used in what appears to be a planned assassination attempt.”

Roodt said the university had experienced several violent and deadly attacks in recent months in response to the institution’s efforts to clamp down on corruption, root out rot and hold individuals or groups accountable for criminal misdeeds.

“Last year, shots were fired into the residence of the deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, Prof Renuka Vithal.”

Roodt said police recovered an abandoned vehicle between Alice and Fort Beaufort two hours after the incident.

“The vehicle had false number plates and appeared as stolen on police records.”

On May 19 last year the university’s fleet and transport manager, Petrus Roets, was shot dead in a suspected hit near the Gonubie off-ramp while driving home from the Alice campus.

On March 18, a man carrying a gun was captured on CCTV footage climbing over a wall and firing three shots at the entrance to Buhlungu’s house.

TimesLIVE’s sister publication, Daily Dispatch, reported that on the same day a “hit list” containing the names of 16 senior officials, mostly members of the management executive committee, was circulated.

The most senior officials had an amount of R600,000 written next to their names while an amount of R500,000 was reflected next to the names of others.

Roodt said university management had informed Vesele's family and next of kin about his death and were providing support.

“Dr Nosisa Mayaba, acting DVC: Institutional Support was at the family's residence in Qonce (formerly King William’s Town) during the early hours of the morning.

“We are aware that amateur eyewitness images and videos of the bullet-ruptured university vehicle of the vice-chancellor are circulating on social media. Out of respect for Mr Vesele and his family, and to preserve his dignity, we ask that the UFH community refrains from disseminating these visuals.”

He said the management executive committee has asked for trauma and counselling services to be made available to students and staff and Vesele’s family.

“Following discussions with the family, further announcements will be made in due course around a memorial service to honour the life of Mr Vesele.”

He said the university extended its deepest condolences to Vesele’s family.

Meanwhile, in August President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate allegations of maladministration in the awarding of honours degrees and the mismanagement of funds at the embattled institution.

The SIU was also asked to probe the sourcing of public servants for study into various faculty programmes by an individual for personal gain.

It was also tasked with investigating four tenders, including contracts for cleaning and gardening services, a tender for the leasing of student accommodation, the appointment of service provider for the maintenance and repair of air conditioning systems and collusion between officials of the university and service providers, in which such officials held direct or indirect interests.

The proclamation covered allegations of unlawful and improper conduct that took place between November 2012 and August last year.


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