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My innocent friends died in my place, says Lindelani soccer coach

The 31-year-old Lindelani resident said he was in the changing room at Lindelani Sports Grounds after a soccer match when he heard gunshots.

Mzwandile Ndlela will never forget the day he saw his two friends brutally murdered by four gunmen last week Monday. 

The 31-year-old Lindelani resident said he was in the changing room at Lindelani Sports Grounds after a soccer match when he heard gunshots.

When he ran out, he saw the men shooting.

“One of the men was standing in front of my car shooting straight at it and my friends Njabulo Cele (24) and Santos Francis (16) were inside the car. I am not sure if I will ever recover from what I saw,” said Ndlela.

Ndlela and Njabulo were soccer coaches of Tornado FC soccer team in Lindelani and Francis was a midfield player for the team.

After the game, when Ndlela and the rest of the team went into the change room, Cele took Francis to the car to speak to him about his performance.

Ndlela believes that the men were after him because he recently challenged the local leadership, accusing some of corruption. 

“I came out against the corruption in our township, so they thought that it was better to kill me. Unfortunately for my innocent friends, I was not in the car and they were killed,” he said.

After the murders, Ndlela was taken to a place of safety.

Police arrested four men last Thursday in connection with the double murder and they appeared at the KwaDukuza Magistrate Court on Monday.

“The deceased aged 17 and 25 sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the body and head. A docket with two counts of murder was opened at KwaDukuza police station for investigation. Further investigations are still being conducted to determine the motive. The possibility of further arrests cannot be ruled out,” said police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

Njabulo’s older brother Ernest said they were bewildered by the murder as his brother was not a troublemaker.

He believed his murder may have been a case of mistaken identity.

“He was not involved in politics and neither is anyone in the family. All he did was play or coach soccer. That is all he loved,” said Ernest.

Inkatha Freedom Party KZN chairperson Thamsanqa Ntuli said he had sent members of the party from national and provincial levels to interview residents and speak with the IFP councillor. 

“There was a meeting held on Monday to get both sides of the story and we will take it from there. Regarding the murders, I believe that police must be given a chance to do their job and we hope they will do it properly so that those killers get jailed. No one is allowed to take anyone’s life. However, we cannot point fingers at anyone, that’s the police’s job,” said Ntuli.

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