Controversial Eastern Cape businessman Major Mfesane Bhekizulu has denied allegations that he is behind the murder of his girlfriend, Singwa Namhla Mtwa.
Mtwa, a 35-year-old OR Tambo municipal employee, was shot nine times on 21 April while she was in her car, after arriving at her Sidwadwa home in Mthatha. She had gunshot wounds to her upper body and was declared dead at the scene.
No one has been arrested in connection with the incident.
News24 has learnt that police have shifted their attention to Bhekizulu, her 41-year-old businessman boyfriend, after her family unlocked her cellphone and discovered disturbing messages, purportedly sent by him.
Members of the public have taken to social media and have vowed to deal with the man themselves.
Speaking to News24 on Sunday, Bhekizulu pleaded with residents to allow the police to do their job, adding that he was not the person residents should look for.
I have done nothing wrong. I am innocent and would like the public to allow the law to run its course because the residents are now jeopardising the case by going after me, as this might ruin chances of getting the real perpetrator.
He refused to answer follow-up questions and said he was busy before he ended the call.
In September 2018, Bhekizulu was arrested for allegedly shooting and killing his employee Mxolisi Mthunjwa, and seriously injuring another, Thmebela Somana, on 11 August.
The Ngqeleni Magistrate’s Court, sitting in Mthatha, granted the businessman R50 000 bail on charges of premeditated murder and attempted murder.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali was not able to confirm the status of the court case at the time of writing.
Photos of a badly bruised Mtwa have gone viral.
Screenshots of the string of messages, which he allegedly sent to Mtwa, have also gone viral.
In terms of the screenshots, it is alleged that Mtwa pleaded with him to allow her to rest and recover from the injuries he allegedly inflicted, but he threatened to harm her further. She allegedly explained that she couldn’t drive with her injuries and told him she wanted to see a doctor.
The screenshots also showed a lengthy message, allegedly from Mtwa, apologising for disappointing him.
Her sister Sanga sent more screenshots and photos to Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Nomthetheleli Mene, and to the Twitter accounts of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Sanga alleges that the man is Bhekizulu.
Mene announced on Saturday that the police launched a manhunt for the perpetrator.
She also said she appointed a senior manager at brigadier level to oversee the case and added that there was regular engagement between the detectives and family members of the deceased to provide constant feedback.
“Members of the family and the public are therefore assured that Namhla’s case is in the hands of capable and professionally trained detectives. With the support and response demonstrated by the community and various formations in every corner of our province and outside its borders, we are optimistic that a breakthrough in this particular case will be made,” Mene said.
Mene also appealed to members of the public to share any relevant information which may add value to the case.
Mabuyane said he had been updated by authorities in the police about the murder case and had called for the net to be cast wide and include the investigation of recent developments with respect to gender-based violence and femicide (GBV&F) allegations.
“Someone must answer for the vicious killing of this young woman. We must also find answers to the images that we have seen in the last 24 hours which show that before her death, she was exposed to all manner of barbaric acts,” Mabuyane said.
“Our laws empower us to strengthen the fight against GBV&F and we must use it to expose and bring to book perpetrators of this heinous crime,” the premier continued.
“We trust that law enforcement authorities will take all the necessary steps to investigate these allegations and most importantly, bring about #JusticeforNamhla.
“I further call on friends, family and the community of the Eastern Cape at large to support efforts of law enforcement officers in the investigation of this crime,” Mabuyane added.
“We must also do everything in our power to ensure that no other young woman suffers the same fate that has befallen Namhla. Let us raise our voices louder and sharper against all manner of violence perpetrated against women.”
The ANC in the Eastern Cape has called on the police to arrest the perpetrator within three days.
Mtwa was buried two weeks ago.
The man’s identity has been widely shared on social media, although police, the government, and ANC statements do not mention him directly.