R30m a matter of life and death as son takes bullet for official
Company with ‘political affiliations’ allegedly behind hit that sent a top official into hiding after his son was killed
A senior eThekwini municipality official is in hiding after his son died in a hail of bullets – a hit apparently meant for him – over a proposed R30m settlement the city offered to a company with “political affiliations”, which was blacklisted at his behest.
Senior manager of revenue protection Douglas Nkosinathi “Nathi” Nkwanyana says some city officials are up to no good and the city does not owe the firm, Pholoba Projects – which had contracts to disconnect illegal electricity supply connections – any money.
In an affidavit filed in court last week, he says he was suspended in September last year on trumped-up disciplinary charges to remove him from the picture after the company launched legal action, initially claiming R44m in damages for the blacklisting.
Two months later his 23-year-old son Ntuthuko was gunned down in the driveway of their family home in New Germany in what he believes was a “hit” aimed at him.
“He had no known enemies. He resembles me in height and build,” Nkwanyana said.
“I had just returned home from visiting a friend. There was a knock on the door and I asked him to see who it was because I was on the phone. When he went outside, a car was parked at the gate ... he was shot six times in the chest. When he fell down, they fired another two or three shots at him before speeding off.”
SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed a murder docket had been opened, that the case was still under investigation and that no arrests had yet been made.
Nkwanyana has been in hiding ever since, but has been keeping tabs on Pholoba Projects’s court application, which has been on the roll of the Durban High Court several times this year.
The company’s contracts were terminated after Nkwanyana did an “on-site” audit and allegedly discovered it was understaffed and that there was overbilling.
The company, in its damages claim, says it was unfairly targeted by Nkwanyana, who allegedly had a vendetta against it.
He was responsible for the contracts being cancelled and had instigated the “blacklisting”.
Nkwanyana says the company instituted a similar application in 2014. He had filed an opposing affidavit that had now mysteriously disappeared from the court file.
When the latest application was launched last year he was suddenly suspended – based on a report compiled by the City Integrity and Investigations unit dated 2015 and after Pholoba Projects had appealed internally against the cancellation of its contracts and lost.
The city did not oppose the fresh application. Instead, in his absence, it began to negotiate a multimillion-rand settlement with the company.
Two versions of a “confidential” settlement agreement, one for R25m and another for R30m, have been placed in the court file, both awaiting the signature of municipal manager Sipho Nzuza.
On August 1 this year, attorneys acting for both sides tried to persuade Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel in chambers to make the R30m settlement a court order.
Instead he directed the city’s private attorney Siphiwe Moloi and Nzuza to file affidavits disclosing who had authorised the deal and whether it had been approved by the executive committee or full council.
When the matter came back before the judge last week, he was not impressed with either of their explanations and suggested the matter be referred to the NDPP.
The judge ordered both Nzuza and Moloi to file further affidavits.
In the meantime, Nkwanyana has applied to personally intervene in the application.
He says there have been problems with Pholoba Projects’s owner Joseph Ngcobo that “were difficult to manage because I was aware that the company is known to have political affiliations in KZN”. He didn’t name the political party.
He said after doing the on-site visit, he personally took over the investigation and the company had “admitted staff complements were not complete and to overbilling”.
“The company raised a credit note of R102,000. But it did not give reasons or respond to queries raised, so the contract was terminated and a recommendation made that the company be blacklisted.
“My suspension was a means to remove me from the system, to prevent the truth of the matter coming out by means of an affidavit which I would have deposed to, derailing the settlement agreement.
“The murder of my son had the purpose of silencing me forever. I might not survive this matter. I have given instruction that evidence in my possession be taken under commission so at the very least the truth will prevail in the event of my untimely and unnatural demise.”
Pholoba’s legal adviser Frederick Kyle declined to comment on Nkwanyana’s allegations, saying they would be dealt with in an affidavit still to be filed.