Amid rumours of poisoning and four months after his burial, the family of slain former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary general Sindiso Magaqa still has no idea what the official cause of his death was, the Moerane Commission heard on Monday.
Magaqa died at a Durban hospital in September following an apparent assassination attempt on July 13, last year. He was a proportional representative councillor in the Umzimkhulu municipality at the time of his death.
Magaqa, Umzimkhulu’s Ward 11 councillor Nonsikelelo Mafa and Ward 16 councillor Jabu Mzizi were returning from an ANC regional meeting when they were shot by unknown assailants.
His cousin, Lwazi Knowledge Magaqa told the commission – investigating the underlying causes of political killings in KwaZulu-Natal – that the family also believed that his cousin was poisoned while he was recovering in hospital.
“At the time of his death, he was about to start physiotherapy,” said Lwazi.
He said Magaqa had recovered from the shooting to “his lower body”.
“We were told that before he died he had complained of stomach pain. The autopsy report we received from (a government mortuary on) Gale Street in Durban didn’t specify his exact cause of death. It only said the results were still pending as some of his tissues were taken to Pretoria for further examination,” said Lwazi, adding that they got the results around late October last year.
He explained that on December 2, he heard from his family that they had received the autopsy results from Pretoria but that they too stated that Magaqa’s cause of death “was still pending”.
Lwazi told the commission he was not sure of the exact date his family received the autopsy results from Pretoria.
Evidence leader Advocate Bheki Manyathi explained that according to experts, toxicology could take a very long time.
Lwazi said family members believed that Magaqa was killed because of his concerns about corruption in Umzimkhulu.
Family unhappy with police
“His problems started when he first complained about the unfinished hall in Umzimkhulu. He was not happy that the hall wasn’t complete while the money which had been set aside to build it had been spent already,” he said.
Lwazi said Magaqa was also concerned that the municipality was wasting money on Mayor Mphuthumi Mpabanga’s daily travel costs from his home in Pietermaritzburg to his office in Umzimkhulu.
Towards the end of last year Mpabanga and delegates from the municipality told the commission that the murders of the municipality’s officials had nothing to do with corruption, but that some leaders of the ANCYL in the region, including Magaqa, wanted to remove older leaders within the municipality so they could take over those positions.
“The youth league doesn’t have the power to remove anyone or deploy themselves in the municipality. It is up to the regional executive committee and the provincial executive committee to do so,” Lwazi said in response.
He said his family was also not satisfied with the police’s investigations into Magaqa’s murder.
“Since July 13, police have given us little information regarding their investigation into the matter,” he said, adding that no arrests had been made in the matter.
He said he was also not happy with the manner in which the police conducted themselves at the scene of Magaqa’s shooting, which was less than five minutes from his home.
“Police arrived at the scene immediately after the shooting but they left shortly [after], saying they were going to call for backup. By the time they came back, a suspicious BMW which was at the scene had already left.”
He said the BMW was seen driving around Magaqa’s home a few days before he was shot.
He had last spoken to Magaqa a week before he was shot.
“He personally told me that he would not leave his ANC to join the EFF. He told me the leader of the EFF (Julius Malema) had been calling him to join the EFF but he refused. If he had joined the EFF, he would have been in the top five,” said Lwazi.
Malema reportedly wanted Magaqa to be the national organiser of the EFF, Lwazi said.
Shortly after news of his death made headlines, Malema told reporters that he had had many meetings with Magaqa about his potential role in the EFF.
“Before he was shot I had a lot of meetings with him discussing whether he is still interested to pursue the struggle for economic emancipation and which other roles he can play in pursuit of the struggle for economic emancipation,” said Malema.
The commission’s chair, Advocate Marumo Moerane, adjourned the hearings until Tuesday. — News24