Mpumalanga Premier warned Msibi over bullet threats

Johannesburg – Double-murder accused Mandla Msibi had been warned to mind his language by Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane before being fired as agriculture, rural development, land, and environmental affairs MEC.

This followed a video in which Msibi was heard threatening would-be looters: “We will not hesitate to put a bullet in the forehead of a person that wants to disrupt the government.”

This was in the wake of upheavals triggered by former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration two months ago.

Speaking to Sunday World on behalf of the premier, her spokesperson Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni said Mtshweni-Tsipane had a heart-to-heart talk with Msibi in the wake of the July riots that left a death toll of more than 300 people.

Msibi’s remarks, which were widely circulated in a video that went viral on social media, had weighed heavily on the premier’s mind, forcing her to discuss the “unfortunate incident” with him.

“The premier engaged the MEC about some of the comments in the video, especially comments alluding to the perpetration of violence against would-be looters,” said Mkani-Mpolweni.

In the video, Msibi has seen warning would-be looters to ensure that their burial schemes are updated, which was a murder threat.

Mkani-Mpolweni said Msibi’s careless statements were not left unchallenged.

“The MEC acknowledged that the choice of words was regrettable and attributable to heightened emotions and the desire to prevent looting and damage to property,” said Mkani-Mpolweni.

According to Mkani-Mpolweni, Msibi had promised to be “mindful of his social responsibility as a leader” and would not endorse violence, “tacitly or overtly”.

But by Tuesday night, following Msibi’s appearance in the Nelspruit magistrate’s court to answer to murder charges, he was met by more than admonishing words. Mtshweni-Tsipane was forced to fire him.

According to national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, Msibi currently faces two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder that took place in Mbombela,  a month after the video went viral.

Msibi, who was also a member of the ANC’s provincial executive committee and head of elections in the province,  handed himself over to the police on Monday.

Mpumalanga premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane

Before his arrest, Msibi had been mired in a controversy involving charges including assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, attempted murder, and malicious damage to property relating to acts of vigilantism. He was acquitted of these charges.

Judgment on his bail application is expected on October 19

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