DURBAN - A HITMAN has been convicted of six counts of murder, including the killing of an ANC ward councillor in 2016, as political parties’ concerns have grown over political killings.
This also comes against the backdrop of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime’s (GI-TOC) recently released report on contract murders in eastern and southern Africa, and less than a month before the 2021 local government elections on November 1.
On Tuesday National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said hitman Fisokuhle Nkani Ntuli was convicted of six counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of possession of a prohibited firearm and two counts of unlawful possession of ammunition, by the High Court sitting at the Esikhaleni Regional Court.
“The murder convictions relate to slayings that took place in the Nongoma area between 2015 and 2018. In April 2015, Ntuli killed Bhutiza Sandisa Mahlobo; in May 2016 he killed Goodwill Bheki Nyembe (ANC ward councillor) and attempted to kill Nolwazi Ngomezulu. Ntuli killed Sibusiso Phiwayinkosi Zulu, Mcebisi Zulu and Sibusiso Elvis Zulu in January 2017. He then killed Sphamandla Mthokozisi Zungu in August 2018.”
The matter was postponed to December 9 for sentencing after the defence requested a probation officer’s report prior to sentencing proceedings.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo welcomed Ntuli’s conviction. He said one of the firearms Ntuli stole was from a policeman in Ezibeleni in Queenstown in 2011.
“Ntuli’s terror reign was not only in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal, as he is also a person of interest in several other cases in Gauteng, many of which are murders, including that of Senzo Meyiwa,” Naidoo said.
At the weekend, EFF ward councillor candidate Thulani Shangase and ANC ward councillor candidate Siyabonga Mkhize were shot and killed in Pietermaritzburg and Durban respectively.
On Tuesday, ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said that KZN could not afford to be dragged back to the days when people were massacred for daring to hold a particular political view.
“We are agitating for the arrest of the people involved in drive-by shootings that claimed the lives of three ANC activists in Inanda on September 12; those involved in the murder of ANC candidate councillor Siyabonga Mkhize in Cato Crest last Friday; as well as those responsible for the gunning down of EFF councillor Thulani Shangase in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday,” said Ntombela.
The GI-TOC research report by Kim Thomas found that there were peaks in KZN regarding killings during 2016 and 2019; both years were election years – municipal (2016) and national (2019).
“In South Africa, an assassination plot was uncovered in which $14 484 (R211 000) had been paid for a politically motivated murder. An unsuccessful political hit (in 2017) was contracted for $2 897.
“In 2018, South Africa’s most expensive recorded hit for the 2015- 2019 period was for a case in the organised-crime category: $57 750 for the murder of defence advocate Pete Mihalik,” read the report.
Gun Free SA researcher Claire Taylor said: “Firearms are overwhelmingly the weapon of choice in hits and assassinations. The only way to deal with the current pool of illegal firearms is to recover and destroy them by way of police search and seizure or intelligence-led operations.”