The death of controversial businessman Sandile Majali was “highly unlikely” to have been a suicide, his lawyer John Ngcebetsha said on Monday.
“There is no evidence that suggests that at all. It seems highly unlikely at this point,” Ngcebetsha told the South African Press Association.
Ngcebetsha said the family were “extremely concerned” at the circumstances of his death and had decided to appoint an independent pathologist to examine the body.
“They appeal to all to avoid speculation of those results, to enable the results to speak for themselves.”
He said the family confirmed that at the time of his death Majali had been suffering from a “respiratory challenge” for which he was undergoing treatment.
He had been staying at the hotel to rest and receive treatment at the time of his death.
Ngcebetsha also said that Majali’s family believed that there had been attempts to persecute him during his life.
‘Trustworthy and honest’
“They call for the media to back off from this and let him rest peacefully.”
The family still believed in his innocence and saw him as a “trustworthy and honest” person.
They were proud of his achievements in terms of business, entrepreneurship and the economic transformation of South Africa, said Ngcebetsha.
He said the family wanted to protect Majali’s assets for his children.
“There are a number of vultures who want things differently.”
A memorial service would be held in Johannesburg this week. A funeral date had not yet been decided upon.
Majali was estranged from his wife. He had three children, one boy and two girls.
Earlier police said they were waiting for tests to be conducted on medication found in Majali’s hotel room.
Majali, who was said to be in financial trouble, came into the public eye following his role in the Oilgate saga that saw him “donate” R11-million of PetroSA’s funds to the African National Congress ahead of the 2004 elections.
He was arrested in October 2010 by the South African Police Service‘s Commercial Crimes Unit on fraud charges and was released on bail — after directorship of mining company Kalahari Resources were changed from Brian Amos Mashile and his sister Daphne Mashile-Nkosi to a group of eight people including Majali.
The two siblings had to bring an urgent interdict before the High Court in Johannesburg to get themselves reinstated as directors of the company.
Majali was due to appear in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court again on January 18.
His three co-accused Stephan Khoza, Haralambos Sferopoulous and Elvis Bongani Ndala, recently appeared in court over their mental fitness to stand trial. – Sapa