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The three years leading to Jimmy Mohlala’s death

[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”300″]Red Jimmy[/media-credit]

MARCH 2006:

Mbombela council official Differ Mogale signs a secret deal with the Matsafeni Trust to transfer a portion of their ancestral land to the municipality for the construction of the 2010 stadium. The land, worth R46 million, is transferred at a cost of just R1, in return for promises of jobs and other benefits for the land claims community.

APRIL 2006:

Mogale and municipal manager Jacob Dladla appoint and pay Lefika Construction to design and act as consultants for the stadium project.


When details of the Matsafeni land deal finally emerge, Mohlala opposes it as illegal. He also notes that R43 million paid to Lefika was unauthorised and in breach of the Municipal Finance Management Act. The municipality denies any wrongdoing, and officials are effectively gagged from commenting on the matter.


Without council consent, Dladla appoints Mogale as Mbombela’s 2010 co-ordinator, a post that would earn him R480 000 a year.


Mohlala continues to question aspects of the 2010 project, including the Matsafeni land deal, and also begins questioning service delivery and maladministration within the Mbombela council. Dladla and other officials ignore growing concern amongst elected councillors, and defy 361 formal council resolutions – leading to a stand-off between the elected council and the municipality’s executive management.


The Mbombela council, led by Mohlala, decides to annul the appointment of Mogale and orders disciplinary action against Dladla, ordering him to go on compulsory leave. His appeal to the labour court is turned down, with costs to him. His further attempts to force the municipality to reverse his suspension leaves him with a legal bill amounting to more than R100 000.


The Matsafeni community turns to the High Court to fight the land sale, including questioning the relationship of Dladla and other senior council officials with the Matsafeni board of trustees. The case is ongoing.


A 181-page investigation report by local law firm Ngobe Nkosi Attorneys notes that Dladla repeatedly refused to cooperate with investigators, illegally wiped the hard drive on his laptop and intimidated officials. The report also finds that Dladla failed to declare his business interests with the chairman of the Matsafeni Trust, that he routinely ignored council resolutions and refused to hold himself accountable to the council. As a result, service delivery imploded, prompting residents to rebel and march on the legislature.

MARCH 2008:

The ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) resolves that Mohlala and municipal mayor Justice Nsibande must resign for failing to restore order to the municipality. The PEC recommends that the municipality be put under administration. Lassy Chiwayo is appointed as the new mayor and Reverend Micah Nthali as the new speaker. Mohlala refuses to resign, however, and continues to work as speaker. The ANC threatens him with disciplinary action.

JUNE 2008:

Mohlala is critical of the Mbombela council’s secret attempts to bulldoze the Matsafeni community into accepting surrendering their land for just R1, warning that officials could be held personally accountable for legal costs or any other losses.

AUGUST 2008:

Mohlala is arrested on charges of the attempted rape of a 14-year-old girl and is released on R2000 bail in the Nelspruit magistrate’s court. Mohlala insists he was framed. The case was due to resume on January 19, 2009.


The ANC’s regional executive committee (REC) issues a formal instruction to new mayor Lassy Chiwayo and Mohlala to immediately reinstate Dladla and “counsel” him to make him a better manager. The REC also insists that all disciplinary charges and legal proceedings against Dladla be dropped.

When ANC chief whip Wilson Nkosi tables the REC’s resolutions as a formal motion at council, Mohlala, as speaker, and other council officials note that proper procedures were not followed.

The matter is therefore not put forward for vote.

DECEMBER 7, 2008:

ANC officials meet at the home of provincial ANC chairperson, David “DD” Mabuza and resolve that Mohlala’s disciplinary hearing be resolved before the 2009 general elections. The minutes indicate that the ANC caucus should also move to stop disciplinary hearings against Dladla.

In mid-December, Mohlala tells colleagues that he’d received “childish” telephonic threats warning him to mind his own business or else he’d be sorry. He also claimed to have spotted suspicious cars following him.

JANUARY 1, 2009

Mohlala is accosted by two suspected hijackers, who rob him of his pistol and then flee on foot. Mohlala tells police that while he doesn’t know the names of his attackers, he has seen them around KaNyamazane and will easily recognise them in a line-up. No arrests are made.

JANUARY 4, 2009:

Mohlala is shot dead at around 8:45pm outside his house in KaNyamazane. His 19-year-old son, Tshepiso, is injured.

Neighbours claim three men had been parked in an unmarked vehicle a couple of houses away for about three hours before the shooting.

JANUARY 5, 2009:

Provincial ANC spokesperson Paul Mbenyane says it is irresponsible for anyone to suggest that Mohlala’s murder was politically motivated.

Police, however, say they are not ruling out the possibility that the murder was politically motivated. Police later soften the statement, saying they are treating the investigation as they would any other murder.

JANUARY 6, 2009:

Police question and release two suspects after detaining them overnight. Police announce that they are looking for a Vincent Nkosi of Pienaar outside Nelspruit who may be able to help them with the investigation.

JANUARY 9, 2009:

A memorial service is held for Mohlala at the Mbombela local municipality.

JANUARY 11, 2009:

Mohlala is laid to rest in Nelspruit.

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