Case against Phelele Shongwe not in court

The incident that he was arrested for occured at an ANCYL elective conference in May 2018.

The case against a mayor’s personal security assistant who was up following the killing of MKMVA member Samson Madonsela is not on the court’s roll yet, officials have told this paper.

Earlier, 013NEWS was told by a highly-placed police source that the matter was actually withdrawn owing to “political pressure” and that this occured after a “mediation between the parties was reached”.

But police spokesman Brigadier Leonard Hlathi rejected this, saying the matter was still under investigations and they will then approach the prosecutors once investigations were done.

He said there were two different matters in the case that the source was “confusing”.

“The first one is the one of pointing a firearm, I’m sure you remember that one, which yes was withdrawn after the complainant and the accused spoke and agreed,” Hlathi said over the phone.

“Then the second one is the murder, which we are currently busy investigating. We have not charged anybody on it,” Hlathi said. “All of that will happen once investigations have concluded,” he said.

“Yes, the one of pointing of firearm was withdrawn,” Hlathi said.

Shongwe is Gert Sibande mayor Muzi Chirwa’s security aide.

He was arrested after Madonsela was shot dead outside the Chief Albert Luthuli municipal offices in Badplaas, reportedly when chaos erupted while delegates were collecting accreditation cards to attend the Gert Sibande ANCYL regional elective conference on 26 May 2018.

Madonsela had been part of other veterans who were providing security to the venue and Shongwe had allegedly been there accompanying Chirwa.

Shongwe had been facing a charge of murder, attempted murder, pointing of a firearm and assault.

But after appearing at the Carolina Magistrates Court on 29 May he got released on a R10 000 bail and the charges against him were reduced to only three counts of attempted murder and pointing of a firearm in order to allow police “to broaden the scope of the investigation”.

“The suspect is charged with three counts but murder is not one of them yet. We have been given a task to broaden the scope of the investigation,” Hlathi said at the time of Shongwe’s case.

NPA spokeswoman Monica Nyuswa confirmed a week ago the matter is not with them.

“The matter is not yet on the court’s roll. It is still with the police. They are busy with investigations, please talk to them. We can only comment once it has been given to us and we can begin prosecution,” she said.

Case against Phelele Shongwe not in court

Shongwe, who is also a member of the MKMVA and a former SANDF soldier, is originally from Ermelo.

In 1998, Shongwe appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to answer for two counts of murder, one of attempted murder and another of illegal possession of firearms after he killed an IFP member and then a National Party member before seriously injuring another during a political violence towards the 1994 general elections.

He was a member of an ANC’s self-defence structure that was organised in Ermelo townships to fight off the IFP and the Black Cats.

The Black Cats – popularly known as ‘Makati’ in Ermelo streets – was the IFP’s violent group in those days opposed to Nelson Mandela becoming the President of South Africa and had been maiming and gunning down SACP, Cosatu, ANC and other community members accused of supporting the ANC.

One day on 22 October 1993, the young Shongwe found himself forced to kill the group’s Bongani Malinga in Ermelo’s Extension township with 11 bullets before fleeing the area to White River, where he got into bitter confrontation with NP members.

He told the TRC on 29 July 1998 that Malinga had been one of those who were playing key roles in terrorising the community and when he saw him on that day few houses from his home he “ran straight to him and shot him”.

“I shot him in the leg and he fell onto the ground. I proceeded to him or towards him. I think I shot him about three times in the ribs and when I was closer to him, I shot him at close range. The firearm was loaded with 15 bullets and I ran off from the scene and I think I shot him about 11 times, because I was left with only four bullets,” he told commission chair Desmond Tutu.

Case against Phelele Shongwe not in court

He then fled the area to White River, where he got into an ugly fight with NP members who didn’t want him in the area.

There in White River Shongwe killed the NP’s Ernest Malele on 15 February 1994 before seriously injuring another NP member, using a gun he robbed a police officer and then set Malele’s car alight.

Both Malele and the unidentified NP member had come to the White River place where Shongwe had been staying, armed with pangas but Shongwe pulled out his gun and shot at them as they were entering the door.

He was arrested but soon after the trial had started the Judge set the matter aside, citing lack of enough evidence.

The commission granted him amnesty.

(edited by ZK)

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Cry for road divides residents in mayor Muzi Chirwa’s ward

Government wants to divert a road to another section, angering the other group from the other section.

A two-decade long cry for a road in Gert Sibande mayor Muzi Chirwa’s ward of Badplaas has divided the community, leaving tensions at a boiling point amongst the residents.

Government irked the residents a week ago when officials announced they would construct a 700m street and no longer the 4km main road that the residents are demanding.

013NEWS has seen the 700m street that the municipality intends to construct and municipal officials say this street will be paved at R5 million of taxpayers’ money.

It is located in Dlamini C and residents from Dlamini D believe it’s useless of government to pave this Dlamini C street and not prioritise the main road, which they say is being used by a lot of people and can make economic activities viable in the area.

Cry for road divides residents in mayor Muzi Chirwa's ward

The main road in Dlamini D that residents want prioritised.

Dubbed “a passage”, officials say the reason they are now opting to pave this 700m street and not the 4km Dlamini D main road is because of the “tight” R5 million budget.

On Thursday last week, angry residents from Dlamini D blockaded a road with rocks, school desks and burning tyres, demanding government comes listen to them.

They say “a passage” won’t help them and they accuse officials of prioritising it in order to rake in profits from the R5 million.

But another group, armed with dangerous weapons, came to the protesting residents, threatening to kill them and then began removing the rocks from the road that were left by the protesting group, accusing the protesting group of frustrating “development” in the area.

Cry for road divides residents in mayor Muzi Chirwa's ward

Muzi Chirwa.

ALSO RELATED: Widespread regional service delivery protests cause council to appoint private company to provide bodyguards for Chirwa

The armed group wants the 700m street, but is being accused by the protesting group of doing so because its members were promised jobs in the R5 million worth construction project of the 700m street and not really that they want development in the area.

“Since the first councillor in 1994 or something the matter of the road was put in the Infrastructure Development Program. Since then we have been waiting. Waiting, waiting. Very patient. Now the project comes, they divert it to that passage,” 62-year-old Mhlaba Nhlabatsi said.

He said local taxis can use the road to transport people in and out of their homes and can create economic development in the area.

Ward councillor Mandla Motaung said the situation is unfortunate. He said as government they want to satisfy everybody but the R5 million is too small to satisfy everybody.

“The contractor is already on site. He is given to pave the area until 2021. The total amount he wants to pave this street and the main road is R31 million, so currently the municipality has R5 million and we said with the R5 million let us put the 700m street and then we will wait for the next financial year where we will get another money and begin constructing the road. We are calling for calm as government, everybody will get a paving, it’s just the budget for now,” Motaung said.

(edited by ZK)

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ANC “outnumbered us” to pass resolution giving Muzi Chirwa more bodyguards – DA

Quite a strongman in regional politics, it looks now that the beefing up of his security was a decision taken because of threats on his life but also it happens three days after the chaotic ANCYL congress in Badplaas that left an MKMVA member dead and one of the mayor’s two bodyguards arrested.

The Democratic Alliance says they were outnumbered when a resolution to appoint a private security company to provide extra bodyguards to Gert Sibande mayor Muzi Chirwa was passed.

The resolution was passed during a special council sitting on 30 May 2018 – just three days after the Gert Sibande ANCYL regional congress in Badplaas that saw MKMVA member Samson Madonsela shot dead. Chirwa’s personal bodyguard Phelele Shongwe, who is also an MKMVA member and who was there to provide security to the conference with other veterans, was arrested and later released by the court on R10 000 bail.

DA councillor in the Gert Sibande district municipality, Muso Kubheka, says Chirwa now has five bodyguards and a company called NJS Security was appointed.

“We said why don’t we take that money and improve service delivery rather than beefing up the mayor’s security.

“We were outnumbered by ANC councillors. They supported the report which said that there are a number of service delivery protests and the mayor should be protected because he receives death threats through his cellphone. We rejected this request,” Kubheka said.

ANC "outnumbered us" to pass resolution giving Muzi Chirwa more bodyguards - DA

ALSO SEE: Parliament committee concerned about Gert Sibande’s “sluggish” response to falling waste water infrastructure

Chirwa previously had two guards since his election as mayor in August 2016 but it now seems NJS Security has provided the three extra guards.

The Gert Sibande district municipality has 19 seats, 14 of which were won by the ANC, DA 3 and EFF 2.

Kubheka said the DA was the only party that opposed the request to beef up Chirwa’s bodyguards and “it was on record”.

A screenshot of a piece of paper seen by the 013NEWS reporter a week ago shows that NJS Security will charge the district municipality about R262 000 monthly, appointed “in emergency” to provide “personal security to the Executive Mayor on an urgent basis,” it reads.

Chirwa’s spokesman Lungisizwe Mkhwanazi didn’t answer e-mailed questions.

(edited by ZK)

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“CWP work is not necessarily employment,” mayor tells residents

The residents want the mayor to intervene in the little money earned by the men and women in orange.

Chief Albert Luthuli mayor Dan ‘DP’ Nkosi says the municipality will try and absorb two or three workers from the Community Work Programme should there be a vacant post.

DP was responding to questions from community members during a Mayoral Imbizo he had in Carolina’s Silobela township.

One of the residents had asked the mayor to take the CWP workers as permanent municipal workers, saying the R700 that they earn a month is too little.

“Please, please hire these people or increase their wage,” the resident said to thunderous applause.

When he took to the stage, Nkosi explained to the residents packed in a tent erected in an open field that the R700 that the CWP workers earn monthly is money determined by national government – by the department of co-operative governance.

“CWP is not necessarily employment,” Nkosi said.

“I must tell you that CWP is a means to alleviate poverty by getting the unemployed to do something for their communities in exchange for the R700. But that happens in the process of the unemployed person seeking a job and once he or she finds a job then involvement with CWP stops,” the mayor.

“When there is a post at the municipality you are encouraged to apply,” Nkosi said.

He spoke to scores who came to attend his Mayoral Imbizo on Thursday a week ago.

During the Mayoral Imbizo, DP delivered a speech, touching on the progress made by the municipality and allowed questions from the community members.

He said he was happy to hear that people were voicing out their happiness in getting RDP houses, water as well as toilets.

He unveiled the newly paved Coetze street in the Carolina area and will wait for an operational plan from the taxi association to unveil the newly built long-distance taxi rank.

(edited by ZK)

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Muzi Chirwa’s “sluggish” district put on spotlight

Part of the four Mpumalanga regions notorious with its communities for having leaders driving state-of-the-art vehicles while the people live in mess will finally answer.

Gert Sibande district mayor Muzi Chirwa’s “sluggish district” is now a subject of talk by a Parliament committee.

Parliament’s committee on sanitation is in the Mpumalanga province on an oversight visit and is now expressing concerns over what it saw in the district.

Muzi Chirwa's "sluggish" district put on spotlight

“The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation is concerned by the state of Waste Water Treatment Works in the Gert Sibande district municipality that has resulted in hazardous spillages in the streams and rivers in the area,” portfolio committee chairman Mlungisi Johnson said in a statement on Thursday morning this week.

“According to the information received by the committee,” Johnson said, “none of the Waste Water Treatment Works in the district is fully functional”.

Muzi Chirwa's "sluggish" district put on spotlight

“This is despite the growing population and increased demand on the available infrastructure,” he said.

Johnson slammed the municipality and said that it was unacceptable that raw sewer finds its way into the rivers.

Systems of sewage and water in the district are flowing to rivers and dams and have affected the Vaal River, a national river, which starts in the area.

“At the Standerton Waste Water Treatment Works, the malfunction of filters has resulted in untreated water finding its way into the Vaal river system,” Johnson charged.

“The municipality sited the long procurement process as an impediment to dealing with some of the urgent challenges. Furthermore, the rate of implementation of projects is disturbingly slow which must be looked into,” he said.

Muzi Chirwa's "sluggish" district put on spotlight

He said the committee was very shocked to find that a 2 Megalitre plant has not been functional since 2015, owing to “sluggish intervention by all spheres of government in resolving such an environmental risk factor”.

“It is the committee’s considered view that a piecemeal approach will not work in resolving the challenges faced by the district.

“A comprehensive response is necessary to deal with this hazardous challenge and there is no sign [that] planning [is] happening at municipal level [to resolve the issue]”.

013NEWS could not draw comments from Chirwa as his spokesman Lungisizwe Mkhwanazi’s landline went unanswered on Thursday morning and his cellphone off. Chirwa also didn’t answer his phone.

(edited by ZK)

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