Home / Investigative / Premier denies “dirty tricks”
James Nkambule outside court following his arrest for defeating the ends of justice.

Premier denies “dirty tricks”

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza allegedly formed a “dirty tricks” task team and promised its members R3 million and government jobs if they quashed allegations that he was behind political assassinations in the province.
Mabuza, through his spokesman, admitted to being aware of the allegations and on Friday challenged his accusers to come forward and present them to the police.
The allegations were made by two Mbombela, Mpumalanga, men who claimed to have been members of the task team.
In sworn affidavits, Sibusiso Shakoane, 31, and Murriel Zitha, 28, who respectively worked as a researcher and regional youth secretary for the Congress of the People (Cope), said they were sent, at Mabuza’s instruction, to steal documents and a computer of the organisation’s former regional chairman, James Nkambule.
“We were approached by Welcome Nkuna and Walter Sithole (and) instructed by Mabuza. The task was to defend him against allegations in relation to a man called “Josh”, who was responsible for the assassination (sic) in the province.
“Our task was to get information with regard to the role that James Nkambule was playing. The task included taking his personal computers and documents and frustrating his organisation,” says Zitha in his affidavit.
This was after Nkambule made public an affidavit by the alleged assassin, nicknamed “Josh”, from Mozambique, in which he claimed to have been ordered to kill the Mbombela municipality’s Speaker, Jimmy Mohlala. He claimed to have been paid R40 000 for the hit.
Mohlala, prior to his assassination, had blown the whistle on corruption involved in the construction of Mbombela stadium. He was gunned down at his Kanyamazane township home before he could testify in the disciplinary action against former Mbombela municipal manager, Jacob Dladla.
The theft of a laptop was meant to “assist” the Hawks in their investigation against Nkambule, who was on trial for defeating the ends of justice for implicating the premier in Mohlala’s killing.
The plot backfired when the then Cope regional secretary, Bheki Malaza, discovered that the laptop had been removed from Nkambule’s office without his knowledge. He opened a theft case with the police, which led to the arrest of the duo.
“I opened a theft case against them because we were never asked by the police to surrender the computer to them, because the police know that the correct procedure would have been to obtain a seizure warrant and we would have complied,” said Malaza on Wednesday.
Malaza said he warned the police that the information obtained in the laptop would not be used in any court because it had been obtained illegally. Nkambule died of poisoning in October 2010, barely a week before the matter was due for trial.
In sworn affidavits, Shakoane and Zitha claim they were promised R3m and jobs in the government and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) but were increasingly frustrated when the promises were not fulfilled.
“A concession of R3m and the deputy director’s post in the Mpumalanga Parks Board was made,” says Shakoane in his affidavit.
Sithole and Nkuna declined to confirm or deny allegations.
The premier’s former spokesman, Mabutho Sithole, who is also named in the affidavits, referred all inquiries to Mabuza’s current spokesman.
“I wish to state I am no longer the premier’s (spokesman). (Queries) should be directed to his office. I also want to state that I have copied Zibonele Mncwango this response and also the questions,” he said.
Sithole was axed after his arrest for allegedly trying to offer a R5 000 bribe to City Press journalist Sizwe SamaYende in an attempt to influence him not to publish another damaging story on Mabuza.
Sithole was discharged after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) failed to formulate charges.
In a bizarre ruling, magistrate Erwin Sithole said giving money to journalists to prevent them from publishing a story was the same as placing an advert in a newspaper, which did not constitute an offence.
Mncwango said: “The premier is indeed aware of the allegations against him, including the theft of a computer and the perpetuated misconception that he was behind the political killing in the province.
“The premier has no special relationship with all the people mentioned in your query whatsoever and he is of the view that this matter is merely resuscitated to generate hype such that the public may not be able to differentiate between facts and fiction. The premier is calling on those with more information on this matter to come forward.”
Mncwango also did not confirm if there was any direct interaction between Mabuza, Zitha and Shakoane. But there are copies of SMSes believed to have been sent by Zitha in which he complains about promises never fulfilled.
But Mncwango is adamant Zitha and Shakoane’s claims are part of a conspiracy against the premier.
“The premier is fully aware certain bitter elements use all sorts of platforms such as online media, print media, social media and secret meetings to generate malicious lies and innuendos about him.”
In one SMS, Zitha chastises the premier for failing to keep his end of the bargain: “I know I was recruited on something that (I) was not supposed to be part of. I was working for Cope honestly with a hope to save money to further my studies in an institution of my own, but I believe one day history will judge some of us. At least I know what kind of a leader you are,” reads the SMS.
According to Zitha, the last straw was when he was promised a job at Mbombela municipality, where he attended an interview for a position of law enforcement officer.
“Ndabezitha ngiye ku-interview (I attended an interview) @ Mbombela municipality three weeks back and I got a call yesterday, which confirms I am appointed as a law enforcement officer. I went there to sign my appointment letter only to find I’m reduced to… security guard,” reads an SMS from Zitha.
Mbombela municipal manager Noko Seanego has since been arrested and charged with fraud after allegedly appointing people who neither applied for nor attended any interviews for the law enforcement jobs. He is due to appear in court next month.

Leave a Reply


Check Also

Mpumalanga attorney arrested for theft

MPUMALANGA – A Mpumalanga Attorney Themba Daniel Mabunda (48) has been arrested ...