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Some of Fort Hare’s latest detainees had been on suspension

One accused of falsified degree, another of revamping home

More suspects in corruption and murders at Fort Hare University have been arrested.
More suspects in corruption and murders at Fort Hare University have been arrested.
Image: MICHAEL PINYANA

At least four of the 15 people arrested in connection with murders and attempted murders at the University of Fort Hare had been placed on suspension by the university since 2022.

This has come to light after it emerged that six employees of the university, some of them senior managers, were among those that police nabbed in swoop in four provinces over the Easter weekend.

Sowetan and its sister publication, Daily Dispatch, can reveal that among those arrested are from the institution's departments of finance, supply chains and human resources. An insider told Sowetan that one of the suspended officials is said to have falsified his qualification while another manager is accused of having used the institution's service provider to renovate her house allegedly at the expense of the university.

According to insiders, out of the six employees, two were still working on campus until their arrests at the weekend. Some of the arrested suspects had resigned from the institution.

"There are six individuals – it is a mixture of current employees but also employees who have been placed on precautionary suspension and service providers connected to the university. They are awaiting for their DC” the insider said.

One insider told Sowetan the other suspects were service providers connected to the university's human resources directorate and the directorate of security and protection services. 

They are expected to appear at the Dimbaza magistrate's court today.

Police swooped on the suspects during the Easter weekend in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The arrests, which are in connection with violence and corruption at the university, bring the total number of people nabbed to 25.

The 15 suspects face a string of charges ranging from fraud, corruption, kidnapping, murder and attempted murder, according to police.

University spokesperson JP Roodt described the work of the police in recent months as groundbreaking. The university is expecting a debrief from the team of police investigators today.

"The institution has and remains deeply committed to its project of renewal. It was the university that reached out to the Presidency that resulted in the SIU (Special Investigative Unit) proclamation and the appointment of the SAPS national task team to assist the institution with the fight against corruption, fraud, murders and attempted murders. We remain grateful to national and provincial authorities for groundbreaking work in recent months," said Roodt.

He declined to give details about positions held by some of the suspects at the institution.

National police spokesperson Brig Athlenda Mathe said some of the suspects are charged with the murders of fleet manager Petrus Roets, who was gunned down in   2022, and vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu’s bodyguard Mboneli Vesele, who died in a hail of bullets in January last year in Alice.

Mathe, however, did not want to reveal the positions some of the suspects held at Fort Hare.

Some are charged with the attempted murders of Buhlungu, his deputy, Prof VC Renuka Vithal, reckless discharge of a firearm, theft and possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The first batch of arrests was made in April last year. They are former employees Bongani Peter, a suspended university fleet manager, Wanini Khuza, former SRC member Sicelo Mbulawa and alleged hitmen Mthokozisi Khanyile and Mthokozisi Dlamini.

Except Mbulawa, who was released on bail upon appeal, all remain in custody.

The second batch of arrests, made in August, was that of suspended police officer Lindokuhle Manjati and his cousin and businessman Zimele Chiliza. Manjati’s wife and attorney Phelisa Nkonyeni and Thamsanqa Mgwetyana were arrested a month later in September.

In November, the task team swooped on former director of investigations and vetting Isaac Plaatjies at his home in East London.

Plaatjies, who was alleged to be the source of the hit list containing 13 names including that of Buhlungu, Vittal and a photo of the bullet-riddled car belonging to slain Buffalo City metro senior official Nceba Ncunyana, is still fighting to be released on bail.

National police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola and minister Bheki Cele are expected to be among the faces in the court's public gallery when the suspects appear today.

In a statement, Masemola said the task team will continue to do their work "without fear or favour".

"The team has been hard at work in getting to the bottom of who is behind fraud, corruption and the murders at the university.

“They will continue to investigate and hunt those who are found to have had a hand in any wrongdoing..."

 


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