By: DUNCAN GUY and SASHA VAN NIEKERK, Independent on Saturday
Durban – The authenticity of correspondence under an ANC letterhead took centre stage, in the Durban High Court on Friday, in the trial of two suspended ANC councillors and a man they allegedly hired as a hit man.
The three – Velile Lesheku, Mduduzi Ngcobo and Mlungisi Ndlovu – are charged with orchestrating the murder of Abahlali baseMjondolo leader in KwaNdengezi, Thuli Ndlovu, in September 2014. She had been vocal in her opposition to people from outside the area occupying RDP houses.
Lesheku, a suspended proportional representation councillor, took the witness stand after Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel granted a request to his counsel, Jay Naidoo, to reopen the defence case.
There, he took the opportunity to explain that he had handed a letter of suspension to Stembiso Ndlovu, who had testified against him as a State witness, from the ruling party.
However, advocate Krishen Shah, for the State, called the letter a “recent fabrication”.
“He (Stembiso Ndlovu) disputed being suspended. He testified that he had never been suspended. He admitted selling RDP houses but paid back the money and carried on working.”
Lesheku said that he had drafted Stembiso Ndlovu’s letter of suspension using his laptop. Under cross-examination, he said he had not saved it but transferred it to a memory stick before taking it to the ANC regional office to be printed.
Ploos van Amstel said he believed that to transfer the file containing the letter to the stick would have had to involve it being saved and there would therefore be a record of when it was written.
He then ordered that the laptop and memory stick should be presented to the investigating officer and that it be opened only with Lesheku’s consent and only to view the suspension letter.
“His defence counsel must be present.”
Stembiso Ndlovu was allegedly party to discussions about plans to assassinate Thuli Ndlovu with the three accused and allegedly pointed her out to Mlungisi Ndlovu, who allegedly shot her dead and wounded Siphesihle Madlala, who was with her, teaching her matric daughter extra maths.
The dead woman’s supporters, from Abahlali baseMjondolo, a shack dwellers’ movement, turned out to support their fallen leader and burst into dancing and song after the court postponed the hearing to Tuesday next week.
“What happens in court will not bring back our leader,” said spokesperson, Thapelo Mohapi.
“Also, children are now without a mother and she will not be able to see her daughter graduate as a teacher.”
Among them was Thuli Ndlovu’s mother, Gertrude, wearing red – the colour of clothes worn by Abahlali baseMjondolo members.
She said she had come to the city centre from KwaNdengezi for all the hearings and was caring for her grandchildren left by her daughter.