‘Feud’ led to murder
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, is due to testify in court about a vicious “feud” that allegedly ended in murder. Mathonsi is listed as the final state witness on a list of 29 set to be called by the prosecution in the trial of six men who allegedly murdered Sadtu’s KwaZuluNatal South Coast chairperson, Nathi Zondi, last May. Mfundi Sibiya, who is the director of the education department’s Ugu region, is accused, along with five others, of murdering Zondi two weeks after he’d been elected to the Sadtu position.
The witness list, along with a brief indictment, was submitted to the Durban High Court this week. Sibiya is a former member of Sadtu’s KwaZulu-Natal executive committee and an unsuccessful ANC parliamentary candidate.
In the sparse indictment, Sibiya and Zondi are describedas“rivals, althoughtheywerebothmembers of Sadtu” in the Ugu district. The “feud” between them escalated to a point that “necessitated” the intervention of Sadtu’s provincial leadership, it says in the indictment.
Despite this meeting, it’s alleged Sibiya and South Coast principals Lindani Mkhize, Mhlengi Luthuli and Xolani Myeza – all Sadtu members – “decided and conspired to kill” Zondi.
The indictment reveals that Sibiya allegedly approached former principal and current school governing body chairperson Sandile Mzizi to “arrange a hit man”.
Luthuli, Myeza and Mkhize later allegedly met with Mzizi to procure the shooters – Lungisokwakhe Makhoba and Andile Zulu – whom Mzizi had recruited. In early May, Myeza allegedly drove Mzizi and the hit men to carry out a reconnaissance on Zondi’s house in Umlazi.
Then on May 9 last year, Makhoba and Zulu returned to the Umlazi home in a car driven by a man identified only as “Njabulo”, and allegedly shot and killed Zondi before fleeing.
Zondi had campaigned for his Sadtu position on an anticorruption ticket. It was the arrest of Sibiya and his alleged co-conspirators that sparked City Press’ extensive investigation into an alleged jobs-for-cash racket run by Sadtu in KwaZulu-Natal.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has since appointed a task team to investigate the alleged scam, which City Press later revealed extended to other provinces.
Mathonsi, who has distanced Sadtu from Sibiya and his co-accused in media briefings since the City Press exposé, said he had not been approached by the prosecution about giving evidence. “I wait to be approached. So far, no one approached me. I was not at the last court session,” he said this week.
What caused the “feud” between Zondi and Sibiya is not made clear in the indictment. The two men were once comrades – Sibiya was among those who supported Zondi after his wife Ntutu was murdered in Mid Illovo, KwaZulu-Natal, in 2010.
Court A of the Durban High Court was packed to capacity on Tuesday when the six appeared. Relatives of both the deceased and the accused, the former wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Zondi’s picture, uneasily squeezed together on the hard benches of the public gallery.
Makhoba and Zulu’s friends took up positions at the back of the gallery, keeping a low profile before slipping out the moment the two alleged hit men were remanded in custody and sent back to the holding cells.
The other four accused are out on bail. The case was adjourned until September 5, when a trial date will be set.