/ 15 September 2017

Magaqa gun may have been found

Whistle-blower: Sindiso Magaqa had queried tenders awarded for the same building upgrade
Whistle-blower: Sindiso Magaqa had queried tenders awarded for the same building upgrade

The Hawks are awaiting results of ballistics tests on weapons recovered from two suspects recently shot in a failed cash-in-transit robbery to ascertain whether they were used in the murder of former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa.

They believe the two men, one of whom was shot dead, were involved in the July shooting of Magaqa and fellow councillors Jabu Mzizi and Nonsikelelo Mafa outside a general dealer in the southern KwaZulu-Natal town of Umzimkhulu.

The attack followed the murder of another ANC councillor, Mdu Shibase, in May. Two weeks before Shibase was killed, the speaker of the municipality, Khaya Thobela, who was also deputy secretary of the ANC region, was also gunned down.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said they had issued identikits for the two suspects, one of whom was currently in hospital under police guard, and were waiting to complete an identification process and for the ballistics report.

“We are of a view that there are two suspects who were shot in a robbery two weeks ago. We are still awaiting proper identification process and ballistics from the weapons that were recovered from the crime scene to see if they are linked,’’ he said.

Mulaudzi was unwilling to comment on whether they were investigating any links between corruption cases in the town — including an investigation into the 
R37-million upgrade of the Umzimkhulu Memorial Hall, which Magaqa had passed on to them — and the attack.

“At this stage we are focusing on the case itself. If there are other issues that come up we will see. We do have a lot of corruption cases in Harry Gwala District Municipality under investigation, but they are sensitive in nature and we cannot comment at this stage,’’ he said.

Muluadzi declined to confirm how many cases, which are understood to include the employment of 80 ghost employees in the district, the Hawks were investigating.

Some were at the inquiry stage, others were still under investigation and several others had been sent to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision to prosecute.

“There are lot of corruption cases in the area that are being covered. We can’t give numbers for now, but there are a lot.’’

Last week Magaqa’s comrade and friend Thabiso Zulu revealed that he had passed the documentation about the hall upgrade, which has not been completed despite two contractors being paid millions each, to the Hawks.

The contract was initially awarded to an Eastern Cape construction company for R17-million in 2014. But the work was ceded to a second company for R14-million, with the first contractor being paid the balance. The owner of the first company is understood to be linked to a senior municipal official on the Umzimkhulu council through a family romantic relationship. Both companies were paid upfront.

But the work was abandoned halfway, with a second upgrade contract for R14-million being awarded to a third company last April.

This work has also not been completed and Magaqa had, Zulu said, come to him out of frustration over the council’s failure to take action over the payments, some of which may have been made irregularly.

Magaqa, a proportional representation ANC councillor at Umzimkhulu, had also questioned the cost of the work, which union officials in the town had also challenged at the time that the award was made.

Magaqa will be buried in Umzimkhulu on Saturday. President Jacob Zuma is expected to attend, as is Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who previously served in the ANC Youth League with Magaqa.