Zuma fears for his life

Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust Fund Chairman Zobaphi Sithole was shot and killed by a group of unknown gunmen while waiting for his car to be washed two weeks ago.

In the wake of the shooting, Zuma has raised suspicions that his own legal issues could be tied to Sithole’s murder and is understood to have made a request for his security to be beefed up.

Police suspect that Sithole was killed by a group of taxi operators and that he was the victim of taxi wars that have rocked the area over the past two weeks.

However, addressing mourners at the 51 year old Sithole’s funeral, Zuma said he feared the chair of the Jacob Zuma trust had become a dangerous position to hold, as both Sithole and his predecessor George Nene had died under unclear circumstances.

The African National Congress (ANC) deputy president suggested that the two had been killed by people trying to get to him and said his first instinct was that the deaths of the both Sithole and Nene were linked.

“Sithole followed Nene, which means those who killed Nene have killed him. That’s what first came to my mind when I heard about his murder,” Zuma said.

Nene was killed in a “suspicious” car accident only weeks before the beginning of Zuma’s trial on charges of rape in February this year. Both he and Sithole had headed the Trust Fund responsible for raising funds to help Zuma meet the legal costs of his rape and corruption trials.

According to Zuma, in the wake of Nene’s death “nobody wanted to be chairman’because nobody knew if you would not be putting your life in danger”.

Zuma has reportedly requested that the police tighten up his security, amid fears that his own life could now be under threat.

Media reports last week said Zuma had met Protection and Security services commissioner Mzondeki Tshabalala two weeks ago to “raise concerns about his security”.

However, the police have played down the suspicions of a threat to Zuma’s life, saying the ANC deputy president’s office has given them no indication that the deaths of the two former Trust chairmen were linked to politics.

Since his axing from government last year on allegations of corrupt dealings, Zuma has claimed that he is the victim of a political conspiracy that is aimed at ending his political ambitions, ensuring that he does not succeed President Thabo Mbeki as the President of the country and the ANC.

The former deputy president has claimed that senior ANC members do not want to see him taking over the reins from Mbeki, and that these are the people who have been at the centre of his arrests on charges of rape and corruption.

Zuma has said an investigation into his allegations of conspiracy is currently underway.

September 2006
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