Family slams police inertia over murder

Inaction: Buffalo City Metro housing employees mourn the death of Sabelo Kondile. A year after his murder, those who might have helped the police with their investigation have yet to be interviewed. Photo: Mamela Gowa

Inaction: Buffalo City Metro housing employees mourn the death of Sabelo Kondile. A year after his murder, those who might have helped the police with their investigation have yet to be interviewed. Photo: Mamela Gowa

Police investigators working on the murder of Buffalo City’s housing manager, Sabelo Kondile, have failed to trace and take a statement from a woman said to have witnessed the killing ­– more than a year after the shooting happened.

AmaBhungane was told the police know the name of the woman, who was reportedly in the vehicle in which Kondile was shot six times, and that she is from KwaNobuhle in Uitenhage.

A child of about three years of age is also said to have been in the car.

Kondile (38) was married with two children.

Marinda Mills, the head of Eastern Cape police communications, said local police were “still looking for a female witness who can assist”.

Kondile’s mother, Notiti Kondile, also complained that New Brighton police investigators had yet to contact her and Kondile’s wife to inform them of the inquiry, including the identity of the investigating officer. A new investigator is said to have taken over the docket late last year.

The national police spokesperson, Solomon Makgale, insisted during a phone call last week that the police had been in regular contact with the family.

Kondile’s colleagues in the Buffalo City housing department said that although there were suspicions that the murder was work-related, the police had not interviewed or taken statements from them.

“Political motivation”
Immediately after the murder, on April 8 last year, the police announced that they were treating it as politically motivated.

Asked if they still believed it was a political hit, Makgale said: “Yes. We don’t have any new facts at this stage.”

Kondile, based at the council offices in East London, was in Port Elizabeth attending a workshop.
The shooting took place on New Brighton’s busy Embizweni Square.

The gunmen reportedly fled the scene in a white bakkie without stealing anything.

AmaBhungane put questions to Port Elizabeth’s police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Dumile Gwavu, on April 24 and 25. He said he would respond on April 28, but no reply was received.

The Eastern Cape police media centre initially said it could not comment because this might prejudice an ongoing investigation. Later, Mills said “slow progress is [being] made at this point” and that “detectives are confident they will solve the case.

“Crime intelligence officers have joined the detective investigating the case, forming a small task team tracing and following up on all leads.”

She said local media had been approached and that a press article had appeared in March “indicating that the SAPS is seeking information from any person who can assist with information”.

Eyewitness
Duncan Molefe, a New Brighton resident interviewed by amaBhungane, confirmed a woman was in the car at the time of the murder. “I heard shots and rushed out of the house; I saw the car Kondile was in and the bakkie rushing off. I went over and I saw him with the girl in the car.”

Police have not interviewed him.

Notiti Kondile expressed her dissatisfaction about the handling of the case.

“We have heard nothing from the police. They took both his phones and said they were using them to investigate. How long does that take?

“I have stayed with his wife since the killing and they have never contacted us,” she said.

Notiti refused to name Kondile’s wife, and amaBhungane was unable to contact her.

Senior managers in the Buffalo City human settlements department, who asked not to be named, said the police had also not interviewed them.

“There was a lot of emotion and people talked a lot after Sabelo was killed. It was speculated that there might be a connection with housing tenders, but nothing was ever proved,” one said.

They said Kondile oversaw all metro housing projects. His willingness to court unpopularity was highlighted after his promotion in 2012, when he was involved in a decision to cancel a big RDP housing contract where the contractor had under-performed.

Death threat
Shortly after the murder, the director of the housing department, Thabo Matiwane, reportedly received a call from a private number warning that, if he continued to do certain things, he “would also get what Kondile got”.

Matiwane would not elaborate.

Kondile is not the only Eastern Cape housing boss to have been killed last year.

Three months after Kondile’s death, Buyisile Mkavu, an ANC councillor and the head of housing in Nelson Mandela Bay, was shot six times.

A local man, Bongani Cagwe, has been charged with his murder.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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