Businesspeople in uMshwati Local Municipality in KZN fear that the brutal killing of Thamsanqa Zibula (31), who was gunned down at the intersection of Manning Avenue and Ohrtmann Road in Pietermaritzburg last week, was linked to the alleged battle over tenders at the municipality.
The Witness has since established that Zibula, who hails from Bhamshela in uMshwati municipality, was at loggerheads with some businesspeople who had accused him of attempting to dominate the tender business within the municipality.
Zibula died in a brazen gun attack on Thursday.
Battle for tenders
Sources within the uMshwati business community told the newspaper that Zibula was a prominent player within the municipality’s tender business.
“He was leading a group of businesspeople who were pursuing tenders in the municipality. However, there was also a rival group of businesspeople who were opposed to him and his grouping.
“The battle for tenders has become intense within the municipality. Businesses, including municipal officials in supply chain management, are in perpetual fear of being assassinated. What we dealing with here in uMshwati are businessmen prepared to kill for tenders,” said a business person who wished to remain anonymous.
Mafia-style business forum members at times invade government construction sites to demand a share of the contract awarded to a legitimate businessperson.
The interim business structure was expected to develop into a fully-fledged business chamber as the municipality currently does not have one.
At the time of Zibula’s murder, some uMshwati businesspeople were challenging his election.
“Some people were extremely angry as they were excluded from the process in which he was elected chairperson, said the business person.
“Even though we don’t know who killed him, there is a strong perception within the business community here in uMshwati that he was assassinated because of his involvement in tenders at the municipality.”
While uMshwati mayor Mandla Zondo would not be drawn into speculations around the reasons which led to Zibula’s shooting, he, however, confirmed that the dead man was one of the active businesspeople within the area.
“Yes, I can confirm that he was the chairperson of this interim structure representing local businesspeople. As for issues around his death, I think the police are best placed to comment on such matters,” he said.
“On tensions within the local business community, Zondo said ‘there are problems’ which he said the municipality is working on resolving.
“As a municipality after we were presented with this interim leadership structure, we then realised that there were other businesspeople who didn’t participate in the nomination process.
“We are currently working hard to ensure that the business leadership structure is as inclusive as possible to avoid any future disputes.”
Police still investigating Zibula’s murder
Meanwhile, KZN police have not made any breakthroughs in Zibula’s case.
KZN police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said police were still investigating.
According to Zibula’s wife, Londiwe, the businessman will be buried at Bhamshela on Saturday.
Among other business interests, the couple ran a borehole-drilling business.
“I’m not in the right frame of mind to speak about this. I’m devastated. This is a difficult time for me and the entire family. I have just arrived at the morgue to fetch his body. I don’t know how many times he was hit but this hurts so bad.
“We are preparing for the funeral which will be in Bhamshela. We will leave everything else in the hands of the law. I have spent my time with this man. He has been with me 24/7 since we got married and there is nothing that I can think of as a reason for him to be murdered, and in such a brutal way,” she said.
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