MK group to help Wolmarans's former murder-convicted bodyguard

Former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans. (Gallo)

Former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans. (Gallo)

The uMkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) will help Enoch Matshaba, one of the two men whose conviction and sentence for murder were set aside by the high court in the North West, clear his name.

MKMVA national chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also deputy minister of defence and military veterans, told the Mail & Guardian on Friday that the association will provide Matshaba with lawyers to sue both the state and police officers who investigated the case and made the arrests.

READ – Rustenburg mayor: I was framed for murder of councillor 

Matshaba was convicted in 2012 together with Mathew Wolmarans, for the murder of Rustenburg local municipality councilor Moss Phakoe in 2009. Matshaba was Wolmarans’s bodyguard when Wolmarans was Rustenburg mayor.

The MKMVA also called for Alfred Mutsi, one of Phakoe’s friends who has been vocal on his murder, to be investigated.

Mutsi, who has now defected to Economic Freedom Fighters from the ANC, was one of the state’s witnesses in the murder trial.

“Mutsi misled Moss Phakoe’s family,” said Maphatsoe on Friday.

“He is the one who has been claiming to know who killed Moss. We think as MKMVA he should tell the police what he knows. The way he has been dramatising this whole thing shows that he knows the truth about Moss’s murder.”

For his part, Mutsi said he did not have a problem with being investigated. He told the M&G that both him and Phakoe’s two other friends Tshepo Maifala and Sammy Lebelo were investigated by police already.

“All of us were cleared,” he said.

Still guilty
Mutsi has been quoted in several newspaper articles saying he knew who killed Phakoe.

“I told the police everything. I went all out, 24 hours, wanting to know who killed Moss.”

He said he still believes Matshaba and Wolmarans are guilty.

“The evidence came out in court. This one that came out during the appeal hearing I don’t believe it. The evidence that came out during the trial was damning,” Mutsi said.

After being found guilty for being the killer who pulled the trigger, Matshaba was sentenced to life in prison, while Wolmarans was given 20 years behind bars. He, together with Wolmarans – spent over a year fighting the conviction and eventually succeeded to get the high court in the North West set the conviction aside last week.

Officers should be ‘charged and dismissed’
The MKMVA is prepared to back Matshaba all the way.

“We will assist comrade Enoch with our lawyers,” said Maphatsoe.

“Those police [officers] must be charged and dismissed from work. You can ask yourself how many people are in prison for crimes they did not commit just because these policemen can be bought.”

Maphatsoe, who said he trained Matshaba in uMkhonto we Sizwe in Uganda, said he “never believed” that the former guerilla could have killed Phakoe.

“I know him to be disciplined, humble and reserved,” Maphatsoe said.

“He kept saying to me: ‘Commissar, I didn’t do it’. We are being framed because of political factions. Now people perceive him as a murderer.”.

Politics and murder
No one has been able to spell out how North West political factions are related to Phakoe’s murder.

Justices Monica Leeuw, Adriaan Landman and Samkelo Gura of the high court in the North West  last week found that the court that convicted Wolmarans and Matshaba failed to ensure the case was properly investigated, relied on information that could not be corroborated and failed to follow the leads that could have disproved the two men’s alleged involvement in the murder. 

His own bodyguard, Matshaba, was unsuccessfully urged to turn state witness against him.

Wolmarans and Matshaba successfully poked holes in the state’s case and, during their appeal, the court acknowledged that two key witnesses were not credible.

Freddy Mashele, a key witness who implicated Matshaba, came forward after almost two and a half years. He claimed at the time that he was too shocked to report the murder immediately, went home to Giyani in Limpopo, where he took ill, could not walk and was hospitalised. 

The court, however, found that Mashele “was not admitted to hospital immediately on his arrival on March 15 2009, but was only hospitalised in 2010.”

The lower Rustenburg court did not deal with the need for a “proper explanation on how Mashele could have identified Matshaba while he failed to disclose to police a vital identifying feature of Matshaba ... the scar on his forehead,” read last week’s judgment.

The court also found that Mutsi’s evidence, which was based on the alleged strained relationship between Phakoe and Wolmarans, “cannot serve as confirmation that the two appellants conspired to kill ... or killed the deceased”.

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge

Mmanaledi Mataboge is the Mail & Guardian's political editor. Raised in a rural village, she later studied journalism in a township where she fell in love with the medium of radio. This former radio presenter and producer previously worked as a senior politics reporter for the Mail & Guardian, and writes on politics, government, and anything that gives the disadvantaged, poor, and the oppressed a voice. Read more from Mmanaledi Mataboge

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