Murder charges dropped against KZN mayor as witnesses won't testify
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says that a lack of witnesses willing to testify for the state caused it to drop charges against murder accused Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba.
Mahlaba appeared in the Madadeni Magistrate’s Court on Thursday where the charges he was facing for the 2016 murder of ANC Youth League leader Wandile Ngobeni were officially withdrawn.
In a statement, the NPA said that following careful consideration and analysis of all the evidence contained in the docket, it had taken the decision to withdraw charges against Mahlaba.
NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara said the main reason for the withdrawal pertained to witnesses who were now no longer willing to testify for the state.
"There were initially six witnesses who provided statements implicating Dr Mahlaba in the matter, and upon which the prosecution relied when the arrest was done. Since then one witness has passed away and four are no longer willing to give testimony," she said.
Kara said the state was, therefore, unable to proceed with the remaining witness’s evidence as it required corroboration - which could no longer be provided.
Mahlaba was arrested in May and had previously been granted bail of R20,000.
Last month the NPA said acting director of public prosecutions Adv Elaine Zungu would study representations and determine whether the case would proceed to trial or whether charges against Mahlaba would be dropped.
Mahlaba is currently on special leave of suspension with the ANC provincial leadership yet to make a decision regarding his future within the party's ranks.