By Celani Sikhakhane
A police investigation has been launched after a 20-year-old police trainee died after being hit by a car owned by the uLundi Local Municipality last Thursday.
At the heart of the investigation lies the question of whether the car was being driven by Speaker Senzo Buthelezi or his bodyguard. The victim’s family believes that Buthelezi was behind the wheel, but the speaker says he wasn’t even in the car when the incident took place.
Thandolwethu Nkabinde was running along the R66 in KwaZulu-Natal last Thursday at about 5.40 pm during a training session when he was hit by a car.
Nkabinde’s uncle, Xolani Sibiya, said relatives got a call from Nkabinde’s mother after she saw her son’s lifeless body on the road.
“She was in a taxi from town. She asked the driver to stop so that she could check what happened to her son,” said Sibiya.
“She then called us. We rushed to the scene and found her and a bystander who witnessed the accident. The bystander told us that Thandolwethu was hit by a white Toyota double cab that is used by the municipality’s councillors.”
Sibiya said he and his brother, Thami, found the vehicle at the municipal offices. Scrolla.Africa has seen photographs of the damaged car.
When they asked the security guards at the offices who had been driving the car, they were told it was Buthelezi.
Responding to the allegations, Buthelezi said that the accident happened after his bodyguard had already dropped him at his home.
“He was on his way to uLundi to park the vehicle after he dropped me at my home. He phoned me that he had an accident but he was unable to stop because he feared that he might be attacked by community members.
“He drove the car to Mashona Police Station to report the accident. When he got there, he was told that he had to report to Magudwini Police Station and he did that. He then took the car to the municipality premises,” said Buthelezi.
Buthelezi said that on the following day, he went to the family to pay his condolences and discussed funeral arrangements.
Ulundi municipality communications manager Cebo Buthelezi said the “bodyguard who was involved in that accident has already given his statement to the police. The speaker was not the driver of that vehicle, as it is alleged.”
The bodyguard was unable to speak to the press because of an ongoing police investigation.
Police spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshiunda said police are investigating a case of culpable homicide.
The security guards who told the family that it was Buthelezi driving the car declined to speak to Scrolla because they feared victimisation.
Nkabinde’s father, Thuba Nkabinde, spoke to Scrolla.Africa following the incident.
“We want justice for our son. This guy has killed Thandolwethu’s dream of becoming a police officer. What is more painful is that after the accident he ran away, but we went straight to the municipality premises in uLundi where we were able to track his vehicle.“
Pictured above: Police Trainee Thandolwethu Nkabinde who was killed in the hit-and-run accident in Ulundi
Image source: Supplied