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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Fort Hare killings: Court hears of R5m hit on VC’s head as bail hearing resumes

The latest shock claim of a R5m reward to kill the University of Fort Hare's VC emerged during the bail hearing of the five murder accused.

The bail application of the five men accused of the murder of two University of Fort Hare (UFH) employees, resumed in the Dimbaza Magistrate’s Court, in the Eastern Cape, on Wednesday 10 May.

During the court proceedings, it came to light that there was allegedly a R5 million reward offered for the killing of UFH vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.

State prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa shared the news of an alleged hit list with the names, photos and “price tags” of 13 people with the court last week.

The alleged hitmen — Bongani Peter, Sicelo Mbulawa, Wanini Khiwa, Mthobisi Khanyile and Mthobisi Zando Dlamini — are facing charges of murder, attempted murder and the illegal possession of a firearm.

Five Fort Hare murder accused back in the dock for bail hearing

All of the accused are linked to the murders of the university’s fleet manager Petrus Roets and Mboneli Vesele, who was the vice-chancellor’s bodyguard of five years.

Buhlungu’s attempts to root out wide-spread corruption and maladministration at the institution landed him the 24-hour protection of bodyguards. 

ALSO READ: Fort Hare University grapples with violence amid corruption clean-up efforts

UFH vice-chancellor
University of Fort Hare vice-chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu during an interview on 24 March 2018 in East London. Image: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alaister Russell

‘Not guilty’: Alleged hitman claims he sold Jeep

Khanyile told Magistrate Mhlanga Bala that he intended to plead not guilty to all charges. 

This despite the fact that his fingerprints were found on the abandoned Jeep believed to have been used in the murder of Vesele on 6 January this year.

According to Khanyile, the Jeep previously belonged to him before he sold it to a buyer in Mthatha. He told the court the vehicle was stolen in Berea, East-London, earlier this year.

Fort Hare killings: VC bodyguard and fleet manager gunned down

Fort Hare vice-chancellor's body guard, Mboneli Vesele, laid to rest
University of Fort Hare vice-chancellor Prof Sakhele Buhlungu’s bodyguard Mboneli Vesele was killed on 6 January. Image: Twitter @BladeNzimande

Vesele died in a hail of bullets in Buhlungu’s university vehicle at the vice-chancellor’s residence in Alice.

Roets was shot dead near his home in Gonubie on 19 May last year on his way home from the university’s Alice campus. 

At the time, Roets’s murder was thought to be linked to the clampdown on corruption within the university’s fleet network.

Roets reportedly uncovered unauthorised payments totalling almost R1 million, according to the Sunday Times

Two pregnant girlfriends and three minor children

Khanyile requested on Wednesday to be released on bail because his two girlfriends are pregnant.

The 29-year-old taxi driver from Umlazi, in Durban, also told the court that the mothers of his three minor children are unemployed.

The court also heard that he had been acquitted by the Durban Magistrate’s Court on charges of car theft and that he was out on bail at the time of Vesele’s murder. 

Fraud and corruption at fleet

The bail application of the university’s suspended chief transport officer Bongani Peter was heard first last Thursday.

Peter faces a string of charges, including the murders of Roets and Vesele, the attempted murders of Buhlungu and his office manager, Nozuko Mabombo, as well as fraud and corruption.

Ntelwa told the court last week that Peter’s cellphone number was found in the Jeep.

This is a developing story.

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