For the fourth consecutive year, another politician has been killed in Mpumalanga.
While Velaphi Ntshalintshali, 37, is believed to have been the victim of domestic violence and not a political plot, the string of murders is enough to send shivers down any superstitious politico’s spine.
“We are living in a province of greedy and angry people who have lost their values and no-longer respect human lives, hence it looks like we are engulfed by a dark cloud,” said Traditional Healers Organisation national coordinator Phephisile Maseko on Wednesday.
Maseko is a vocal traditional practitioner who is known for opposing muti murders, which are linked to sangomas that she has labelled “charlatans” and “murderers”.
“I am not saying this is not a case of family violence, but we need to dig deeper to see if Ntshalintshali was not killed because she was in a certain political faction and her assailant (made it look like) a domestic violence matter,” she said.
Maseko urged the ANC to use their upcoming Mangaung policy conference to address the issue of political murders on a national scale.
She further urged families to teach their children to respect human life and practice Ubuntu.
Ntshalintshali, a councillor at the once troubled Pixley ka Seme local municipality in Volksrust, was found dead in the early hours of January 3 2012, inside her mother’s house in Amersfoort where she had sought shelter after she and her husband split up.
Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Hlathi said police believed Ntshalintshali’s estranged Mozambican husband and father of her three children, Carlos Chisana, 56, was to blame for the murder.
He was found hanged a few hours after Ntshalintshali was killed.
“We believe that this was a domestic violence murder and has nothing to do with politics because they were estranged and not on good terms,” said Hlathi.
He said Ntshalintshali’s attacker gained entry through a window of her mother’s house and stabbed her repeatedly.
Chisana was later found hanged from the rafters of a dilapidated house in the area. A knife believed to be the murder weapon was found in his pocket.
Hlathi said police had opened a murder docket and an inquest case.
Police have been implicated in the previous three January murders in the province, while foreign nationals have also been implicated in three of the four murders, including the latest one.
Constable Dumisani Mhlanga, 33, of the Nelspruit flying squad and Constable Musa Mkhabela, 30, of the KaNyamazane police were two of the five suspects who were arrested in October 2010 for the murder of the speaker of the Mbombela local municipality, Jimmy Mohlala, who was gunned down at his house on January 4, 2009. The late and former ANCYL secretary in Mpumalanga, James Nkambule who mysteriously died in October 2010, later claimed that the police arrested the wrong people; he said Mohlala was murdered by a Mozambican hitman named “Josh”.
A police issued firearm was used to kill the director for communication at the Mpumalanga’s department of sport, arts and culture, Sammy Mpatlanyane who was murdered on January 10 2010 at his home in Mbombela. Three foreign nationals were arrested last year for his murder. The suspects in Mohlala and Mpatlanyane’s case a still attending court for the murders. Nkambule also made many allegations, including accusing Premier David Mabuza of being behind the January murders of Mohlala and other people who were on a special hitlist. He said that Josh confessed that the Premier was behind the assassination of politicians in the province.
John Ndlovu, 35, a fourth suspect in the murder of the chief whip of ANC in the Ehlanzeni district municipality in Mbombela, Johan Ndlovu (not related), was a police reservist in the Calcutta police station near Hazyview. Ndlovu was shot dead in January 5 last year in a veld near his home in Edinburgh village (also known as Luphungu), near Thulamahashe in Bushbuckridge. Charges against Ndlovu were dropped last year for lack of evidence while another suspect has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
On Wednesday, provincial ANC spokesman Paul Mbenyane said the ANC does not believe there are politically motivated January murders in the province.
“There is nothing called social or political murder. A murder is murder and it should be punishable by law. Our information is that comrade Velaphi Ntshalintshali was murdered by her partner, so we take this as a domestic violence case period,” said Mbenyane.
Mbenyane added that the fact that the Mozambican who killed Ntshalintshali later killed himself, proved his admission of guilty to the crime committed.
Asked for ANC comment on the reports or allegations that foreign nationals were involved in three of the four “January killings” in the province, including the recent one, Mbenyane said “South African liberation was not isolated, but it was assisted by foreign countries so it should be wrong to chase them away now that we are liberated”.
“Crime has no foreign or domestic element. Crime is crime and it should be condemned. The only thing we need to do is to control the influx of foreign nationals in our country, because most of these people who commit crimes are in the country illegally,” added Mbenyane.