A grieving husband recollected the last moments he shared with his wife who was killed during an altercation at an ANC branch meeting on Wednesday.
Seated on a plastic chair on Thursday inside his single-room family shack in Rustervaal, Vereeniging, Cassim Omar, 38, wiped away tears as he recounted how he was called to the scene to find his wife’s lifeless body lying in a pool of blood.
Sindi Mhlongo, 33, could not share her last meal with Omar and their three children – aged 15, 10 and one-and-a-half – on Wednesday evening as she had to rush to an ANC branch meeting at a local community hall.
During the interview, Mhlongo’s aunt, Ruth Sithole, comforted a crying Omar.
“My wife had finished cooking and asked to quickly attend an ANC meeting where they were going to nominate a candidate to contest an upcoming by-election in March in Rustervaal.
“I asked her to return early to have supper with us and she agreed and that was the last time I spoke to her. At around 8pm, two hours after she had left, a woman clad in an ANC T-shirt banged [on] our door asking me to come outside.
“The woman, who was crying, asked me to rush to the hall because something had happened to my wife. I then asked someone to look after our children, especially the toddler who was crying for his mother,” Omar said.
When he arrived at the hall, Mhlongo was lying in a pool of blood after sustaining a bullet wound to the head.
“I can’t believe what I saw. My wife was bleeding from the head and the police stopped me from going near her body.
“I want answers and whoever killed her must face the law. I am widowed at a young age and left with a huge responsibility of raising three children on my own without their mother,” he said.
Sithole called for those who killed her niece to be brought to book.
ANC branch chairperson Madoda Mkhumbeni said he suspected the bullet that killed Mhlongo was meant for him.
“We were in a meeting [with] a few members who were aggrieved that I was topping the list of four candidates to be nominated to contest the ward. One member started throwing chairs at my direction as I was addressing comrades.
“He went out and promised to come back. Indeed, the member returned and sat down. A few minutes later, the lights inside the hall went off and everybody went outside. I then heard multiple gunshots and that’s when Mhlongo was hit.
“I am aware that I am a target by members who are against my nomination and they will do anything for their candidate to be nominated to contest the by-election,” said Mkhumbeni.
He called on the party’s provincial leadership to intervene.
ANC Gauteng provincial secretary Jacob Khawe earlier said he would consult with the branch leadership to establish what had happened.
Khawe added he had received three contradictory statements from witnesses and wanted to verify which ones were true.
Police spokesperson Captain Teboho Lephoto said they had not made any arrests yet, adding a murder case had been opened.
Lephoto urged anyone with more information to contact their nearest police station.