Hunt on for killer of council speaker
Njobe ‘knew about threat’ says colleague as task team probes hit on ANC member
APOLICE manhunt has been launched following the assassination of council speaker of Raymond Mhlaba municipality and a member of the ANC’s Amathole regional executive committee, 46-year-old Thozama Njobe.
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane yesterday dropped a bombshell saying Njobe knew two weeks ago that hitmen had been hired to kill her.
Mabuyane said she had reported it to the police during the governing party’s national policy conference where she informed the ANC of threats to her life.
This apparently after someone who claimed to have been hired to carry out the assassination came forward and confessed, saying they were scared, Mabuyane said.
Mabuyane described Njobe as a dynamic and energetic “anti-corruption” champion who was at the service of the people at all times and not in office for personal benefit.
Njobe died on Monday night in a hail of bullets after a lone gunman fired six shots at her at close-range as she drove from a gathering in Fort Beaufort’s Newton township at 10.40pm, while she was driving with finance portfolio head, Mandla Makeleni.
Makeleni escaped unharmed, he was too distraught to speak to the Dispatch.
Eastern Cape provincial police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci said Njobe sustained injuries to her upper body and was taken to hospital where she was certified dead on arrival. “A murder investigation is under way and police will not speculate on the motive at this time,” Soci said.
But Mabuyane was adamant it was a politically-motivated hit. “This comrade, at the national policy conference in Johannesburg came to me as the provincial secretary of the ANC and told me that there was this person who went to her office, as speaker, to disclose that they were one of the people hired to take her out but that they were scared to do it,” Mabuyane said.
“She then called a friend in the Eastern Cape and asked to open a case with the police there, which happened, but since then until she was gunned down yesterday, police did not call her to make a follow-up.”
In a tragic turn of events, the same friend who laid the complaint with the police was with Njobe when she was gunned down, he said.
Mabuyane believes the police should have acted the moment they were told that Njobe’s life was under threat. “Even this one [attacker] should be easy to arrest; it should give us easy leads because this matter was exposed,” he added.
DA caucus leader in Raymond Mhlaba Local Municipality said Nomvano Zibonda said Njobe said she believed Njobe was killed because of her anti-corruption stance. “She was a crusader in the fight against corruption and this could have possibly led to her death, after getting shot near her home,” Zibonda said.
Eastern Cape Police Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga has assigned a highly experienced team of investigators in a bid to make a speedy arrest. “We request the Fort Beaufort community to stand together and provide the police with information on the identity and whereabouts of the perpetrator.”
The ANC Amathole region yesterday expressed its shock at the gruesome slaying of Njobe. In a statement to the Daily Dispatch yesterday, regional secretary Teris Ntutu said the ANC condemned the act of brutality and called on police to bring the perpetrator to book speedily.
“Comrade Njobe has been a committed member of the ANC whose life was defined by her continued activism.
“This is a moment of great pain and grief for the family of the late Cde Thozama Njobe and the ANC.
“I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to those close to her and the entire movement for this painful loss.
“We also appeal to members of the community who might have information to come forward and assist with the investigation,” Ntutu said.
Raymond Mhlaba municipality came into being on August 3 2016 following the merging of Nkonkobe local municipality and Inxuba local municipality.
Raymond Mhlaba mayor Bandile Ketelo also expressed sadness and shock and conveyed his condolences on council’s behalf.
“We are working with the authorities to establish the facts around councillor Njobe’s death and will inform the public once more information is available,” Ketelo said. —