Lead could solve mur­der mys­tery

Al­leged hit man fin­gers se­nior ANC mem­ber for the mur­der of Bak­wena ba Mo­gopa com­mu­nity mem­ber who ex­posed il­le­gal sale of min­eral rights

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

The fam­ily of a North West whis­tle-blower has been told of a new lead that could help solve his mur­der mys­tery five years af­ter he was shot for ex­pos­ing the il­le­gal sale of min­eral rights. In the lat­est turn of events, the al­leged hit man has made a con­fes­sion in which he im­pli­cates a se­nior ANC mem­ber in the North West as hav­ing or­ches­trated the mur­der of whis­tle-blower Phili Kung­wane.

Kung­wane, a mem­ber of the Bak­wena ba Mo­gopa com­mu­nity, was gunned down in Oc­to­ber 2010 af­ter he dis­cov­ered that newly found plat­inum de­posits be­long­ing to the com­mu­nity had been im­prop­erly ceded to a soc­cer boss.

This year has seen a num­ber of po­lit­i­cal killings in mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and prov­inces over ac­cess to re­sources, and with the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions fast ap­proach­ing, ten­sions are ex­pected to in­crease.

In the Eastern Cape, ANC OR Tambo re­gional chair Xo­lile Nkom­pela’s body­guard, Zuk­ile Ny­ontso, was shot dead in an ap­par­ent hit on his boss two weeks ago in a vil­lage out­side Tsomo.

KwaZulu-Natal’s Nquthu mu­nic­i­pal­ity coun­cil­lor, Vusi Ntombela, was killed while giv­ing lessons at Lu­visi Pri­mary School in Vry­heid, where he was also a deputy prin­ci­pal.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu’s body­guard, Xolani Nkosi, was shot dead in July while trav­el­ling in Em­pan­geni.

North West busi­ness­man Wandile Bozwana was killed in an ap­par­ent hit at the Gars­fontein off-ramp in Pre­to­ria while trav­el­ling with a fe­male col­league in Oc­to­ber.

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s body­guard, Mzwakhe Mag­waza, was shot and killed in­side his ron­davel in Eshowe, in Zu­l­u­land, in what the Hawks be­lieve was a hit.

In the Kung­wane case, self-con­fessed trig­ger­man Jerry Thipe states in a con­fes­sion let­ter seen by City Press that he was ap­proached by for­mer Madibeng mu­nic­i­pal ANC chief whip Solly Malete to “re­move” Kung­wane. Malete has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. Thipe stated in the con­fes­sion let­ter that he agreed to the “re­quest and charged him [Malete]” R35 000 to carry out the hit.

“He [Malete] asked me to charge a less [sic] amount and I told him I would be as­sisted by two friends,” Thipe wrote in the let­ter.

Thipe fur­ther al­leges in the con­fes­sion that Malete paid R15 000 as a de­posit for the sus­pects to carry out the hit.

Thipe states in the doc­u­ment, dated Septem­ber 2014, that he kept an eye on Kung­wane’s home and when he ar­rived at his drive­way, they at­tacked him when he tried to open the gate.

“I shot him with my firearm on the left side of his chest and he fell on the ground.”

Ac­cord­ing to Thipe, his co-ac­cused – Peter Nh­lapo and Sfiso Manana – left the scene af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Manana ap­peared be­fore the Ga-Rankuwa Mag­is­trates’ Court last week, fac­ing a charge of mur­der.

But he will not be in the dock with his fel­low ac­cused as he has turned state wit­ness.

He is ex­pected to tes­tify against his co-ac­cused in the trial, which has had 28 post­pone­ments since the first ar­rests.

Thipe’s state­ment fur­ther re­vealed that af­ter Kung­wane was killed, the three con­tacted Malete, a for­mer coun­cil­lor in Oskraal, for the bal­ance of the amount. They were never paid the full amount. Ap­proached for com­ment, Malete, now an ANC North West pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber, said he had not seen the con­fes­sion let­ter or re­ceived any sum­mons to ap­pear in court.

“I haven’t seen the con­fes­sion let­ter or re­ceived any sub­poena to ap­pear in court,” said Malete.

“I am go­ing to deal with any­one who is spread­ing such lies through a civil claim af­ter the case has been con­cluded.”

Speak­ing on be­half of the Kung­wane fam­ily, Mmaabo Le­laka, younger sis­ter of the de­ceased, said her brother’s death haunted the fam­ily. “We still ask our­selves why he had to die that way,” she said. “My brother was like a fa­ther to all of us. His death re­mains a shock to us and we have been wait­ing for jus­tice to take its course.

“It has been five years that the case has been post­poned, and each time we at­tend to en­sure that we are in­formed of any [new] de­vel­op­ments,” she said.

Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity North West spokesper­son Frank Le­senyego could not say why Malete had not been ar­rested or ques­tioned de­spite the ex­is­tence of the con­fes­sion im­pli­cat­ing him.

“The mat­ter is sub ju­dice and we can’t di­vulge mer­its or de­mer­its of the case,” said Le­senyego.

“If there is in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the ar­rest of any per­son, the SA Po­lice Ser­vice will be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to re­spond.”

In May 2005, while still sec­re­tary of the lo­cal com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion and ANC chief whip in the Madibeng mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, Malete an­nounced at a com­mu­nity meet­ing that plat­inum de­posits had been dis­cov­ered in Oskraal.

Prior to his death, Kung­wane had dis­cov­ered a doc­u­ment in which a pri­vate com­pany, MKR Bak­wena Tribal Min­er­als, claimed it had ob­tained the prospect­ing rights for the plat­inum in Oskraal and four other tribal ar­eas, and had ceded them to the soc­cer boss, whose name is known to City Press.

It is be­lieved this is why Kung­wane was killed.

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

ON GUARD Po­lice pa­trol Maponya Mall in Soweto at the week­end

MUR­DERED

Phili Kung­wane

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