/ 13 October 2021

Murder-accused MEC Mandla Msibi asked to step aside

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Murder-accused ANC leader Mandla Msibi. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Murder-accused ANC leader Mandla Msibi was dealt a heavy blow on 12 October when the ANC in Mpumalanga and Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane each called for him to step aside. 

Mtsweni-Tsipane delivered the news during a media briefing following a meeting with the provincial executive committee (PEC), which decided that Msibi should step aside from participating in the party’s election campaigning as well his position as MEC for agriculture. 

Msibi is said to have been part of the team that was charged with the province’s election campaign strategy.

During the media briefing, Mtsweni-Tsipane told journalists that she had fired Msibi from her cabinet with immediate effect, in light of his arrest. 

“The decision to release MEC Msibi has been taken in consideration of the seriousness of the charges he is facing, as well as the impact that same will have on his work as an executive authority in government. After all, it is to be expected that he should dedicate a fair amount of time to the case he is facing. It is common cause that the governing ANC has set itself a particular moral standard that all of us as its public representatives have to abide by. 

“While I release MEC Msibi from his role and responsibilities, I wish to emphasise and accordingly observe the two basic pillars of our jurisprudence, the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, and the right to equality before the law,” she said. 

The PEC sat on Tuesday and resolved that Msibi should step aside, one party insider said. Efforts to reach PEC acting provincial secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali were unsuccessful. 

Mtsweni-Tsipane said that the province’s MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Busisiwe Shiba, would continue to act in Msibi’s position.  

“Mandla Msibi is a comrade of mine, whom I have known and worked with over many years. I hold him in very high regard, and shall continue to do so until proven otherwise. In this regard, I can only hope that this unfortunate event will afford him the opportunity to reflect deeply. It remains for me to thank Mandla Msibi for his collegiality and commitment during his tenure as MEC in the Mpumalanga provincial government,” she said.

Msibi and two co-accused, Anele Sonke Mnisi (26) and Njabulo Mkhonto (28), are facing two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. Msibi appeared at the Mbombela magistrate’s court on Tuesday for bail application. 

The charges relate to the fatal shooting of Dingaan Ngwenya and Sindela Lubisi at the Cayotes Shisanyama restaurant in Mbombela on 22 August 2021. 

DA Mpumalanga leader Jane Sithole said Msibi’s axing was a long time comin, adding that it boggled the mind how the premier appointed Msibi initially to the exeutive council knowing he had a history of allegations of violence and attempted murder charges against him.

“Msibi has been in and out of courts since 2017 for a number of charges, which include murder, attempted murder, malicious damage to property, robbery and violent assault. Yet again, he is facing serious charges of murder and attempted murder,” she said. 

In July 2017, Msibi was accused of smashing and vandalising a car belonging to a councilor. In August 2017 he was accused of breaking into, trashing and vandalising a house. He also was accused of attempted murder and assault of a person who became partially disabled. Msibi was also accused of destroying a BMW X5 and in 2018, there were allegations that he was arrested for malicious damage to property after he allegedly retaliated against community members who accused him of corruption.