Police Minister Bheki Cele visits the homes of the deceased and crime scenes in Inanda, Durban on September 14, 2021. His visit comes after a black Opel Corsa bakkie with five occupants opened fire on a group of people waiting outside the local primary school, killing Ncami Shange (34), Beatrice Nzama (60) and Philisiwe Jili (37). Five people were injured. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)
It is feared that a drive-by shooting in Inanda could be the start of other political assassinations ahead of local elections in KwaZulu-Natal.
While the 2011 and 2016 local elections were held in a relatively peaceful atmosphere across much of South Africa, in KwaZulu-Natal, the polls were accompanied by violence and killings of leaders and candidates.
Police recorded at least 33 political killings in the province between January 2016 and June 2017. They are Bongani Skhosana, Khanyisile Ngobese-Sibisi and Thembi Mbongo, all of whom were ANC candidate advisers who were shot dead a few times. just days before the 2016 local elections.
Their faces were featured on posters in the August 3, 2016 election, and they won their constituency “posthumously”. But the Independent Electoral Commission had to organize by-elections on November 7, 2016 in district 1 of Skhosana in the local municipality of Umuziwabantu (Harding), district 20 of Ngobese-Sibisi in the local municipality of Alfred Duma (Ladysmith) and Ward 6 of Mbongo in the local municipality of Newcastle.
Although a few leaders and advisers of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the National Freedom Party were killed during this period, most of the attacks were ANC-related and were often labeled as intra-party killings. , because they were thought to have come from competing for a position in the ruling party.
Moerane Commission of Inquiry
The killings continued after the Moerane Commission of Inquiry was established by then-KZN Prime Minister Willies Mchunu in October 2016 to investigate political assassinations in the province since 2011.
Professor Paulus Zulu of the University of KwaZulu-Natal told the commission that an academic study showed that the province has a culture of bloodletting, mainly for positions in social and political structures.
The commission has since tabled its report and the political assassinations continue.
On Saturday afternoon, ANC members were holding a meeting at Buhlebethu Primary School in Inanda, in Ward 54 of eThekwini, when men in the back of a bakkie opened fire, killing Beatrice. Dlamini (75), Ncami Shange (34) and Philisiwe Jili (39) and injuring five other women and a man. They were lining up to vote for a candidate for the post of ANC adviser.
Mandla Mkhwanazi, city councilor for Ward 54, said the community was shocked by the incident.
“We understand when there are competitions and people have different points of view. But there is no need for violence. We still wonder what type of person can open fire on a group of people, especially women. “
The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) in KwaZulu-Natal condemned the killings as a “barbaric act” and called on the police to act quickly to arrest the perpetrators.
Nonhlanhla Gabela, Provincial Secretary of ANCWL, said: “As ANCWL we find the use of violence against a group of women or unarmed delegates appalling. Even though we have no idea what led to the shooting, such acts of violence remind us of unpleasant scenes where people were killed for what they believed in.
“As a province, we have lost many lives due to political violence and we never thought that during this time, when in a democratic country, we would see such killings of defenseless women. ”
Glebelands Hostel a “reservoir of contract killers”
Another ANC-related incident occurred at Glebelands Hostel in Durban on Sunday, September 12, when Sthembiso Mkhize (41), a member of the local peace committee and ANC supporter, was shot and killed in the Glebelands Block R. He died instantly. His neighbors said he was shot dead in front of his three-year-old son. It is feared that his death could trigger further killings in the inn.
According to Vanessa Burger, an independent community activist for human rights and social justice who investigated the violence in the homes in Durban, more than 150 murders across the KZN and other provinces may be linked to contract killers allegedly residing in Glebelands or having ties to the home.
During the Moerane Commission hearing, the inn was described as a “reservoir of contract killers”. The commission carried out an on-site visit to the hostel in September 2017.
Burger said the hostel was on a knife-edge after Mkhize’s murder.
“It seems that the people of the Glebelands… may never be immune to this cycle of generational violence passed in the blood from father to son and mother to daughter, of which there is almost no hope of. escape without real social and economic transformation based on political principles. will and supported by good governance and the rule of law, all of which are completely absent from South Africa’s increasingly murderous and selfish dystopian political landscape, ”she said.
Blow on Sindiso Magaqa
Another political murder that featured prominently in the commission was that of former ANCYL National Secretary General Sindiso Magaqa, who was a councilor in the local municipality of Umzimkhulu at the time of his death in September 2017. He was returning from ‘an ANC meeting when the car he had was traveling with two others the advisers were ambushed. They were all injured and Magaqa died of his injuries in a Durban hospital. He was a whistleblower in one of the city’s questionable multi-million rand tenders. The men arrested for Magaqa’s death are still on trial.
In all of the political killings in KZN, there have been very few arrests and even fewer convictions.
Mid Illovo a hot spot
Mid Illovo, in the local municipality of Mkhambathini, is another hot spot where there have been a number of killings recently. In May this year, the house of Ward 7 Mzwandile Shandu councilor was attacked and two men, suspected of being foreign nationals who were doing carpentry work in the house, were shot and killed.
Before the attack, Shandu’s brother and a friend were shot dead by unidentified people in their vehicle in Dwengu in central Illovo. Their bodies were discovered in the veld by cattle herders.
In August, 32-year-old Ntobe Shezi, who was recently nominated for the ANC in the 2021 local elections, and her sister Thabisile were assaulted by a group.
Shezi said they were scared because their brother, who was also an ANC member, was shot and killed three months ago. His killers are still at large.
Shezi and her sister were forced to leave their home in KwaDwengu in central Illovo following the attack on their property.
Shezi said she believed the attack on her was carried out by her political enemies, as some people had threatened “not to be led by a woman.”
Nhlakanipho Ntombela, spokesperson for the ANC in the KZN, said they are aware that the processes for nominating candidate advisers are accompanied by tensions and challenges, but they did not expect them lead to open violence.
“These are not political acts, they are criminal acts. We send our condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones, ”he said.
Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, professor of political science at the University of the Western Cape, said ANC-related violence had become a norm before polls by local governments, especially in KZN.
Mngomezulu said that when the first democratic local elections were held in 1995, KZN had to postpone theirs until the following year due to violence between the ANC and the IFP.
He said that now ANC members have turned on each other in acts of brutal violence.
“It’s clear that in these tough economic times a lot of people see the adviser position as a very lucrative space where they can earn a good salary, get close to tenders and get other pay on the side.
“This is why many people enter political space – not to serve the people but to enrich themselves. Whenever they see a rival candidate who is better than them, they do their best to eliminate that individual; that’s why you see so many murders during this time.
“In addition, the battles between factions are becoming even more severe and deadly in the branches. Our law enforcement agencies should get wind of these murders and arrest those involved so that they eliminate the culture of impunity, ”he said.
This visit to Inanda
Police said the killings were referred to the provincial political assassinations task force. Police spokesperson Jay Naicker said police were still investigating the murders but no one had yet been arrested.
Police Minister Bheki Cele was in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday and was briefed by senior members of SAPS KZN about the shooting in Inanda. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale and Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa.
He visited the scene of the shooting and spoke with the families of the victims.
Cele urged members of the community to work with the police to find the killers. He said people should not be afraid to vote in local elections.
“The investigation has been opened [over] by the political work team. It is an attack on democracy. We will work very hard so as not to have more loss of life [as we head towards the local government elections]”Célé said. DM