The bodyguard of a Pietermaritzburg ANC leader who had been part of presidential outsider Dr Zweli Mkhize’s campaign team is the latest victim of the wave of political assassinations that have swept KwaZulu-Natal since last April.
Mhlabunzima Bruce Mngoma (30), a municipal protection officer working for city speaker and ANC Moses Mabhida regional executive committee (REC) member Jabu Ngubo, was gunned down in a hail of 20 bullets in the provincial capital’s Caluza township on Wednesday morning.
Police said Mngoma was shot by two men at a car wash. He was first shot while sitting in his municipal vehicle and was then dragged into the street where they continued shooting him. Mngoma, who survived an assassination attempt about eight months ago, died before he could reach the hospital.
A relative, Mooi Mpofana local municipality chief financial officer Simo Mncwabe, was murdered last year in another seemingly politically-motivated – and unsolved – killing. The ANC’s Moses Mabhida region, under which Umsunduzi and Mooi Mpofana fall, includes Richmond, where a wave of hits on councillors and senior officials has left the municipality reeling.
The ANC rumour mill in the province was in overdrive on Thursday in the wake of the killing of Mngoma, who had worked as a bodyguard for the city for about two years. Council sources said he had been protecting Ngubo since she was appointed as speaker after last year’s municipal poll, accompanying her on her municipal and ANC duties.
Ngubo, previously a close ally of ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma, has been under pressure from her colleagues in the Moses Mabhida regional executive committee, over her support of Mkhize. Ngubo had previously backed the region and province’s choice of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for president but has been backing Mkhize for several months.
A member of the ANC’s Copesville (Ward 29) branch, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said Ngubo had been at the branch general meeting (BGM) on Sunday with Mngoma.
‘’Bruce was there at the gate. Jabu had been deployed by the region to oversee the BGM. He was asking people for the IDs and proof of membership. There was a lady who walked in with me. He asked her what she was doing there and why she had come to the branch meeting,” said the member.
‘’He is not a member of the branch. He is a bodyguard paid for by the municipality. Why was he acting as a bouncer at the branch, turning people away? That is part of the problem in this province.’’
The role of bodyguards in the political killings has been thrown into profile by the Moerane Commission of Inquiry, appointed to probe the murders of politicians in KwaZulu-Natal by Premier Willies Mchunu. Witnesses have given testimony of security officials paid by municipalities being used to intimidate, or kill, the political rivals of their employers.
SAPS spokesperson Captain Musa Ntombela said the motive for killing Mongoma was not clear and that no arrests had been made.