25 March 2019

South Africa: Newcastle Mayor Remains in His Post While Awaiting Murder Trial

The mayor of Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal is to remain in his position even though he is behind bars awaiting trial for murder.

The ANC in the province has not replaced Ntuthuko Mahlaba after he was arrested last week.

Mhlaba appeared in the Madadeni Magistrate's Court on Monday for murder, attempted murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, according to ANC provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu.

Mahlaba, who was sworn in as mayor earlier this month, was arrested on Friday in connection with the murder of ex-ANC Youth League member, Wandile Ngobeni, and allegedly linked to the attempted murder of another member. Ngobeni was assassinated in May 2016.

Mahlaba is also the chairperson of the ANC's Emalahleni region.

Simelane-Zulu said the mayor's case was postponed to April 1 for his bail application.

Formal bail application

"Our comrade appeared in court today and his matter was postponed because the State said it was not ready to proceed with the matter. The State then requested the matter be postponed until April 1, for his formal bail application," she said.

Simelane-Zulu added that the ruling party in the province was worried about the current state of affairs in the province.

"We are worried about the developments because the person facing charges is our comrade as well as the deceased was also our comrade. As the ANC, we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"We will allow the law to take its case and it is for the state to prove its case against the accused. Tomorrow there is a press briefing where we will deliberate further on the matter and the way forward at the Newcastle municipality. For now, he remains the mayor of the municipality," she said.

Mahlaba's arrest came days after Harry Gwala District Mayor Mluleki Ndobe' was arrested for the 2017 murder of former ANCYL secretary Sindiso Magaqa.

Charges against Ndobe were provisionally withdrawn in the Umzimkhulu Magistrate's Court on Monday.

Last week, the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in KwaZulu-Natal called on the party's provincial executive committee (PEC) to recall those facing murder charges.

The league said the continued stay of members facing murder charges was "harming the image of the ANC".

"The ANC Youth League is calling on the PEC of the ANC to recall all members of the ANC who are deployed in various government position but who are facing murder cases," the league said in a statement.

"The ANC as a leader of society cannot allow itself to be in conflict with the people."

According to the league, its leaders in the province "have been the most targeted in the senseless killings in our province, accounting for the majority of those killed during the spate of political killings in the province."


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