/ 6 December 2023

Assassinated uMngeni DA councillor knew he was in danger

Nhlalayenza Ndlovu
The late uMngeni municipality Chief Whip, Nhlalayenza Ndlovu, who died on 5 December 2023.

uMngeni council chief whip Nhlalayenza Ndlovu, who was gunned down in front of his young family in a suspected political assassination on Monday night, had recently warned one of his party leaders about a person he believed was a threat to his safety.

The 46-year-old Democratic Alliance councillor was killed in his home along the R617 road outside eMpophomeni at about 7.30pm on Monday. Police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda confirmed that a murder case had been opened.

“Police responded to reports of a shooting and upon arrival, a man was found lying in a pool of blood with multiple gunshot wounds. It is alleged the victim was at his home when he was ambushed by unknown suspects who opened fire, fatally wounding the victim at the scene,” Netshiunda said.

uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas told journalists during a media briefing on Wednesday that Ndlovu, who he described as his “close adviser” and “good friend” would be remembered as a “hero in this battle of good versus evil”.  

“The uMngeni municipality is working closely with SAPS [South African Police Service] to ensure that the case is properly investigated. At this stage the motives behind the attack are not clear, however, available information indicates that the hit was organised locally. I can also reveal that councillor Ndlovu had communicated to me last week about a person who he believed was a threat. This information will be provided to SAPS.” 

Pappas said Ndlovu’s wife, Pretty, his two children aged five years and six months, and their nanny were in the house at the time of the murder.

“Although not physically harmed, they were in shock after having witnessed the murder close to where they were sitting in the living room,” the mayor said.

“First on the scene were personal protection officers from the mayor’s office followed by Midlands EMS, SAPS Mpophomeni and uMngeni municipal law enforcement. Later they were joined by members from the national task team on political killings.

“Upon arrival on the scene, councillor Ndlovu was found face down with multiple bullet wounds to his body including to the head. These shots were fired at close range. Bullet holes were also visible through his front door. At least 10 cartridges were found last night.”

EMS personnel declared Ndlovu dead upon arrival. The scene was cordoned off by the police and forensic teams worked into the early hours of the morning.

“Forensic teams and investigators from the national task team were back this morning to question the witnesses and conduct further investigations,” Pappas said.

He said the municipality was “deeply disturbed and saddened” by the “barbaric event”. 

“Councillor Ndlovu was known as a peacemaker and a reconciler. His calm demeanour and mature approach to governance and community-related matters were among his most memorable characteristics as a leader. Ndlovu was always available to assist, a true family man, devoted to his children, and one would never find him without a smile,” Pappas said.

“Ndlovu is another victim of the lawlessness of our country and the violence in our political system. We are determined to bring his killers to book. More importantly, because this was an organised crime, we are determined to ensure that there is justice. 

He said Ndlovu could not become another police statistic in the ongoing slaughter of councillors, amakhosi and izinduna in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The failure to decisively deal with these matters, which have long been discussed, threatens to undermine our democracy, making KwaZulu-Natal akin to a province in anarchy; a state of disorder due to absence or other controlling systems,” Pappas said.

“Breaking the shackles of cadre deployment, mafia-like behaviour, nepotism, corruption and a failed political system is critical to restoring the trajectory of the country and the province. Ndlovu is a hero in this battle of good versus evil. His sacrifice in the services of the people will give us strength to keep fighting for a better municipality and a better province.”

Pappas said the municipality had received messages of condolences from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the South African Local Government Association and mayors across the region.

But he had not received a formal response from KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube or Police Minister Bheki Cele to his communication about the incident.

Pappas said uMngeni was offering a R100 000 reward for information that would lead to a conviction. The municipality would hold an official memorial service for Ndlovu after consulting his family.

Ndlovu first served as a proportional representation councillor in the Mpofana municipality and was elected to the uMngeni council in November 2021. He was appointed as the chief whip of council as well as a district representative.

The DA’s KwaZulu-Natal premier campaign manager, Sakhile Mngadi, said all political campaigning would be suspended to give Pappas, the municipality and Ndlovu’s family time to grieve.