‘I feared for my life after Sindiso Magaqa’s shooting’

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The current Umzimkhulu mayor, Jabulile Msiya, has told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that she feared for her life after the fatal attack on former African National Congress (ANC) Youth League secretary general, Sindiso Magaqa, in 2017.

At the time, Msiya and Magaqa both served on the executive committee of the municipality in the south of KwaZulu-Natal.

Giving evidence in the murder trial, Msiya recalled a traumatic day in July 2017 when she, Magaqa, and another councillor were attacked in the Ibisi area of Mzimkhulu.

Under cross-examination, Msiya told the court she had no knowledge of anyone who was going to meet Magaqa, who tipped off attackers of his whereabouts. All three people in the car, Magaqa, Msiya, and councillor Nontsikilelo Mafa were wounded in the attack. Magaqa passed away in the hospital a few months later.

Defence Advocate Shane Matthews pointed out during Msiya’s cross examination that while the Auditor-General found irregular expenditure on a memorial hall, there was insufficient evidence to suggest corruption.

This after prosecutor, Advocate Lawrence Gcaba, said in his opening address that the motive for the attack on Magqa was irregular expenditure on the hall and political infighting.

Under cross-examination, Msiya stuck to her evidence that the funds allocated for the hall did not match the work they could see being done.

Advocate Matthews asked Msiya through an interpreter about her concerns about the spending on the hall.

“Your concerns about the memorial hall, ama concerns kwakukuthi, as my paramount duties to conduct oversight on what is happening, so the ground work of the memorial hall was not the same as the money. If I have the documents with me, I would be in a position to be specific as to how much had been used. So, in the absence of those documents that were not in your position of this hall, you can’t tell how much was used, I can’t say this is a particular amount that had been used at that particular time.”

Matthews also pointed out in court that a report by the Premier’s office into alleged irregularities were withdrawn following legal advice. In response, Misya testified that the report was given to Mayor Mphuthumi Mpabanga and that she did not have sight of it.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the ANC’s Harry Gwala region, Zamo Nxumalo, says ANC leaders are in court to support the Magaqa family.

“It is because we need justice to take its course, and we are here as leaders because it is our leaders who were attacked at that time. That is why we are here. You know, the ANC is a caring organisation. If one of our own is affected, we need to give that support. Second, we are giving that support to the Magaqa family because Magaqa was from a family involved in politics like anyone else, and he passed on.”

Sbonelo Myeza, Mbulelo Mpofana, Mlungisi Ncalane, and Sibusiso Ncengwa have pleaded not guilty on charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and the illegal possession of firearms.

The trial has been adjourned until Thursday.