Endumeni Local Municipality mayor Sboniso Mbatha — at the centre of an alleged plot to kill the municipality’s speaker over the awarding of a tender — swopped his mayoral chain for shackles after appearing in the Estcourt Magistrate’s court on Thursday.
Mbatha‚ along with councillor Mthembeni Majola and alleged hitman Xolani Makhathini‚ was remanded in custody.
The trio were arrested in a predawn raid by members of a task team installed to investigate a wave of political killings.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo said the team had intercepted communications pointing to the murder plot.
“The three suspects — the mayor‚ a councillor and an [alleged] hit man — allegedly planned an assassination plot against the municipal speaker‚ who is [thought] to be an obstacle in the awarding of a tender. It is understood the speaker allegedly suspected undue influence and possible corruption in the process.”
Mhlongo said the three would be charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Their arrests follow the visit of a high-level delegation to KwaZulu-Natal on Monday in a bid to solve the province’s rampant political slayings. The delegation included police minister Bheki Cele‚ state security minister Dipuo Lesatsi-Duba‚ defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula‚ justice minister Michael Masutha‚ NPA head Shaun Abrahams and national police commissioner General Kehla Sithole.
The delegation was in the province following a visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ who made the investigation into political killings an urgent priority in the wake of the murders of two councillors in one week.
The three will appear again in court on May 31.
By Jeff Wicks – TimesLIVE