Phakoe murder – aide commits suicide
A confidante of former Rustenburg mayor Matthews Wolmarans – on trial for the murder of activist Moss Phakoe – has shot himself after being questioned by police about his links to the alleged killers of the former North West trade unionist.
Phineas Ngale was until recently the office manager for Wolmarans, the former ANC mayor of the Rustenburg municipality and currently the speaker of the council.
Last week, Ngale, who had apparently suffered a near-mental breakdown since the police investigation focussed on Wolmarans and his co-accused, took a gun and shot himself, sources close to the investigation confirmed.
He left a suicide not in which he said: ‘Tell MJ Wolmarans I don’t doubt his innocence. Bury me quickly.’
Wolmarans and his co-accused and former bodyguard, Enoch Matshaba, have denied killing ANC councillor and unionist Phakoe in a sensational murder trial in the North West High Court sitting in Rustenburg.
Wolmarans and Matshaba will know their fate on 16 July. Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, ANCYL acting resident Roland Lamola and a host of ANC officials and politicians are expected to attend the verdict.
Some streets in Rustenburg will be closed and the judgement will be followed by a prayer service and the lighting of candles at Phakoe’s grave.
Phakoe was gunned down near his house on March 2009, two days after he met former co-operative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka to hand over a dossier of allegations against officials in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, which includes Rustenburg and Brits.
This was after Phakoe and fellow councillor Alfred Motsi tried to convince a string of senior ANC leaders, including President Jacob Zuma, to investigate fraud and corruption allegations in the municipality.
According to testimony in court, among the ANC officials who failed to act upon Phakoe’s revelations were ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Wolmarans was implicated in Phakoe’s dossier. There was also evidence in court that two days before Phakoe’s death, he said to Wolmarans in a meeting: ‘Hate me, but don’t hurt me.’
The former mayor is accused of planning the murder and providing Matshaba with a gun with which to eliminate Phakoe.
Media24 Investigations has reported over the past two years how police initially bungled the Phakoe investigation. It was only after the docket was allegedly found in the office of former police crime intelligence boss Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli that a new task team was appointed to find the killers.
The police questioned Ngale and initially considered him a suspect. When Wolmarans was taken in, he was driving Ngale’s car, allegedly to avoid detection because he knew his arrest was imminent.
A close friend of Ngale, who asked not want to be named, told M24i that he was a close confidant of Womarans, but that they recently had a fall-out and he went on sick leave.
Ngale suffered from high blood pressure and had mental problems after the police investigation focussed on Wolmarans and his co-hort.
City Press understands that the police investigation is still on-going and that they believe that far more people were involved in a conspiracy to silence Phakoe.
The ANC-elected Wolmarans after his tenure as mayor unopposed as speaker of the Rustenburg local council – despite the fact the fact that he was then already fingered as a prime suspect.
Wolmarans was not available for comment.