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Witness wanted to blow whistle

BLOEMFONTEIN – A witness in the murder trial of a couple accused of killing Naledi mayor Motlantsi “Joko” Motloi told the Bloemfontein High Court on Tuesday he wanted to blow the whistle on the murder plot.

Sabata Potele, allegedly a co-schemer in the murder plot, has turned State witness and is now being kept in the witness protection programme.

Replying to questions under cross-examination, Potele said the weekend before the murder of Motloi he told one of the accused he was “going to talk”.

However, two days later he heard that Motloi had been shot.

Former municipal official Caroline Mokgothu and her paramedic husband James Mokgothu stand accused of conspiring to kill the ANC-appointed Motloi at his Wepener home in the eastern Free State in May last year.

Caroline, who was director of corporate governance at Naledi, occasionally also acted as the municipality’s manager.

Potele testified that he told nobody about the alleged plot because he thought they (the Mokgothu couple) would stop the plan, as he had knowledge of it.

The assassin in the matter, Senowe Khaka, 28, from Lesotho, admitted to the murder and was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment.

Replying to questions by the Mokgothus’ defence counsel, Johan Nel, Potele said that when he heard of the shooting the day after the murder, he phoned the couple to hear “what had happened”.

He said he was advised to stay the day at the Mokgothu house for his own safety, which he did.

At the time of Motloi’s murder the municipality had been plagued by infighting between councillors, municipal officials and workers since 2006.

The Free State government disbanded the Naledi town council, based in Dewetsdorp, soon after the killing and appointed an administrator until new elections can be held.

The case continues. – Sapa

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