Suspected activist murder mastermind dies while in police custody
A suspect believed to be the mastermind behind the murder of Cape Town activist Loyiso Nkohla has died of a heart attack while in police holding cells.
A 39-year-old suspect scheduled to appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning in connection with Loyiso Nkohla’s murder was found dead in the holding cells.
The Serious Organised Crime Investigation team arrested the suspect in Peddie in the Ngqushwa Local Municipality, within the Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, on 16 November 2023.
While authorities declined to reveal the identity of the now-deceased suspect, Daily Maverick has it on good authority that the deceased was the individual police and Hawks believed to be the mastermind behind the killing of Nkohla.
No foul play suspected
Hawks spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Siyabulela Vukubi said the suspect died of a heart attack. “No foul play is suspected as it is confirmed that he died of a heart attack early this morning,” he said. No further information was revealed.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is expected to investigate the case. Nkohla was killed in a hail of bullets at Philippi railway station in Cape Town on 17 April. It is believed that Nkohla was targeted for his role in talks to clear Metrorail’s Central Line, where families had built homes along the line.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Shock and sadness after former ‘poo fighter’ Loyiso Nkohla gunned down in Philippi
Zukisa Tshabile, 38, was first arrested, followed by the roundup of another suspect believed to be one of the shooters, Mziyanda Mdlungu.
The Hawks traced and arrested 38-year-old Mdlungu in Katlehong, Tshwane, on Monday, 13 November 2023.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Second suspect arrested in connection with activist Loyiso Nkohla’s murder
He appeared in Tshwane Central Magistrate’s Court the following day, and was expected to appear together with Tshabile at Athlone Magistrate Court on Monday.
The State told the court that Tshabile, Mdlungu and two others, who are still at large, fatally shot Nkohla after being hired to kill him.
Deceased suspected mastermind
The deceased suspect, believed to be the mastermind, was said to be a security company owner, and was linked to the case through cellphone and bank records.
Nkohla came into the national spotlight in 2013 when he and former ANC councillor Andile Lili led a group of people who dumped faeces on the steps of the Western Cape legislature to protest against Khayelitsha residents’ inadequate sanitation. The “poo protests” resulted in Nkohla facing charges for violation of the Civil Aviation Act, after he and a few others were caught on camera dumping human waste at Cape Town International Airport.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Loyiso Nkohla — a life of activism cut short by a hail of bullets
Nkohla was the son of the late Chief Justice Mabandla (“Aaah! Jongilizwe!”) from the Mabandla royal family, who live near Nqanqarhu (formerly Maclear) in the Eastern Cape. DM