Charges provisionally withdrawn against Ndobe

Harry Gwala district mayor Mluleki Ndobe. (Image via Salga)

Harry Gwala district mayor Mluleki Ndobe. (Image via Salga)

The state has provisionally withdrawn charges against Harry Gwala district mayor Mluleki Ndobe for the murder of former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary general and Umzimkhulu councillor, Sindiso Magaqa.

Prosecutor Shohana Moodley further withdrew charges of murder and attempted murder against Harry Gwala municipal manager, Zwelibanzi Sikhosana, during a brief appearance in the Umzimkhulu magistrates court on Monday.

Ndobe, Sikhosana and three other men — Sibonelo Myeza, Mbulelo Mpofana and Mxolisi Ncalane — had been arrested for the 2017 murder of Magaqa and the attempted murder of councillors Jabu Msiya and Nontsikelelo Mafu.

Magaqa died several months after he, Msiya and Mafu were ambushed near the southern KwaZulu-Natal Midlands town.

READ MORE: Three mayors investigated for murders

Moodley told a packed courtroom that the state was applying to provisionally withdraw the charges against the two, saying the state had been waiting for “information” regarding the case against them. Moodley added that it would be unfair to continue to keep them in custody.

Moodley said the state was ready to proceed with the bail application by Myeza, Mpofana and Ncalane, which it would oppose.
Ndobe — who is third on the ANC’s provincial list for the May 8 election — said outside court that he “angry and emotional” over his arrest.

While he welcomed the withdrawal of the charges against him, he was still angered by the course of events. “I can be accused of anything, but not murder,” he said.

Ndobe told journalists he would consult his legal team and the ANC leadership before making a detailed public statement, saying his name had been tarnished for wrong reasons. “I don’t know what the motive for it is,” he said.

His jubilant supporters broke into song outside the courthouse as Ndobe left the building. A second ANC KwaZulu-Natal mayor, Newcastle’s Ntuthuko Mahlaba, appeared briefly in the Newcastle magistrate’s court on Monday after being arrested by a task team investigating political killings in the province on Friday.

Mahlaba was not asked to plead and will remain in custody until he makes a formal bail application.

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