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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


Potential breakthrough in whistle-blower’s case

Key suspect identified in the whistle-blower Eric Phenya murder case, offering a potential breakthrough after over a year of stagnation.


In the ongoing investigation into the murder of whistle-blower Eric Phenya, the South African Police Service (Saps) has identified Minenhle Sibusiso Mtembu, 28, as a person of interest.

This marks a potential breakthrough in a case that has been stagnant for over a year.

Mtembu urged to contact Hawks

Captain Lloyd Ramaovha urged Mtembu to contact the Hawks.

The investigation into the alleged conspiracy to commit murder was registered at the Honeydew police station in September 2022 and to date, there were no developments in the case.

However, Mtembu is believed to hold important information that could shed light on the case.

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Saps has also appealed to the public for any information regarding Mtembu’s whereabouts.

Important breakthrough

Forensic investigator Chad Thomas said identifying Mtembu is an important breakthrough.

“Progress suggests that there are links right through to an assassin-for-hire syndicate based on the East Coast,” he said.

“The laager is closing in on ruthless criminals applying thug justice and we will be working with law enforcement to capture and incarcerate them.”

Thomas said that whistle-blowers are key to dismantling corruption and gangsterism in South Africa and must be protected by all means possible.

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Previously, The Citizen reported that Phenya, a businessman, was murdered on 17 October, 2022, while driving home after dropping his daughter at school.

Phenya at the time had laid charges against officials at the department of home affairs, exposing corruption involving a multimillion-rand tender.

Widow vocal about lack of progress

His widow, Johanna Phenya, has been vocal about the lack of progress in the investigation.

Phenya’s murder was not only linked to tender fraud but also to organised crime syndicates within home affairs, allegedly involved in the illegal issuance of identity documents.

Thomas highlighted the high-level interest in the case, noting interactions between Phenya, Deputy President Paul Mashatile, members of IRS Forensic Investigations and other officials.

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Despite this high-level attention, no arrests had been made, leaving the Phenya family in a state of prolonged agony and fear.

The sudden progress in the investigation gives a renewed sense of hope for justice. Johanna Phenya, who has endured a year of uncertainty and fear, may finally see some progress in the quest for answers, said Thomas.

Justice denied, not just delayed

She previously said that the stagnation of the case made her feel as though justice was being actively denied, not just delayed.

“The broader implications of this case are significant,” said Thomas.

“It highlights the ongoing peril faced by whistle-blowers in South Africa. Phenya’s story is part of a disturbing pattern, with numerous whistle-blowers like Babita Deokaran and Cloete Murray facing similar deadly consequences.”

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Despite resource and capacity challenges within law enforcement, this development suggests that the wheels of justice turn, however slowly, but Thomas added that the public’s cooperation and vigilance are crucial in ensuring that those responsible for this heinous crime are apprehended and held accountable.

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