IFP’s David Ntombela dies at 93

FORMER Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) strongman David Ntombela has died at the age of 93.

Ntombela, who served as the IFP chairperson in the Midlands, died on Friday evening after a long illness.

“On behalf of the Ntombela family, we acknowledge with grave sadness the passing away of IFP stalwart, Thandabantu David ‘Gandaganda’ Ntombela,” his family said in a statement. Ntombela, who in the ’90s was embroiled in a bitter turf war between IFP and ANC supporters around the uMgungundlovu area, is survived by five children, including Msunduzi Municipality councillor Thinasonke Ntombela.

A former MP in the defunct KwaZulu-Natal homeland parliament, Ntombela was implicated in the Edendale’s 1990 seven-day war, pitting IFP and ANC supporters against each other. The “war” claimed scores of lives and displaced thousands of people.

Ntombela, who at the time was an arch-rival of the then ANC Midlands leader, Sifiso Nkabinde, later declined to testify about the violent clashes when summoned by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), saying he would not receive a fair hearing.

“Our clients therefore instruct us that although they are prepared to assist in giving their version of events, they do not see their way clear to do so before this commission as constituted at present,” Petrus Coetzee, Ntombela’s lawyer, told the commission at the time.

While Ntombela had consistently denied having played a role in the Edendale conflict, the TRC in its final report, however, found that the IFP strongman had shortly before the deadly confrontation threatened retribution should buses carrying IFP supporters be stopped in Edendale.

When Ntombela’s warning was ignored, the TRC found, hundreds of heavily armed IFP supporters descended on Edendale, killing 200 residents and displacing close to 20 000.

Funeral arrangements for Ntombela, who retired from active politics in 2007 due to ill health, are yet to be announced.