“Leaders by day and gangsters by night”
Abahlali welcomes conviction of councillors for murder of activist
The trial and sentencing of two ANC councillors for the murder of activist Thuli Ndlovu shows that no-one is above the law, says Abahlali baseMjondolo president Sbusiso Zikode.
ANC councillors Velile Lesheku and Mduduzi Ngcobo, and hitman Mlungisi Ndlovu were sentenced on May 20 in the Durban High Court. Ngcobo and Ndlovu were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and conspiracy to commit murder and Ndlovu to life imprisonment for murder and conspiracy to commit murder and 12 years for attempted murder.
Ndlovu, the chairperson of Abahlali baseMjondolo’s KwaNdengezi branch, was assassinated on 29 September 2014 in her home in KwaNdengezi. She had opposed the allocation of RDP houses by ward councillor Ngcobo to people from outside the community.
Zikode said the houses had been built on people’s plots without consulting the community or the King.
“Some of these houses were built on top of graves and we know the strong beliefs attached to graves in our culture. The people the land belonged to were not even the beneficiaries of the RDP houses.
“Thuli joined Abahlali to oppose this because she was in living in the community,” said Zikode.
Ndlovu was with her one year old baby, her teenage daughter and her neighbour’s son who was helping her daughter with homework, when she was shot. The neighbour’s son was also shot but survived.
Zikode said Ndlovu had received threatening messages and been threatened in broad daylight.
“Ngcobo was known for threatening people, he was feared by the community. When people saw his car they knew there would be trouble, he would fire gunshots next to Ndlovu’s house.”
He said on 29 September when Ndlovu saw Ngcobo’s car she told her mother :“We are going to die today”.
“When we heard the news we all knew who did it. But people were scared to come forward and talk to the police,” said Zikode.
Zikode said the conviction and sentencing would send a strong message to the community, to other politicians and to would-be hitmen. “Being a hitman has become acceptable especially to the young unemployed youth.”
He said he had received numerous calls from people even in neighbouring communities thanking Abahlali for taking a stand.
“These people were leaders during the day and gangsters at night. They were known as ‘untouchable’. But no-one is above the law.”
Zikode said he was grateful to the state witness who came forward and testified against the accused.
“We know there were more people in the hit list. By taking the stand he has saved many people’s lives.”
Asked by GroundUp why Abahlali had been targeted he said: “We have successfully exposed and stood up against corruption in government. KZN politics are bloody politics.”
“Any organisation outside the ANC is seen as a threat,” he said.
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