The Glebelands Hostel is a "reservoir of hitmen" and police are actively involved in violence there, the Moerane Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.
"Anyone who wants someone [taken] out goes there. Glebelands has become a reservoir of hitmen," independent researcher and human rights activist Vanessa Burger said.
Hitmen were hired to kill taxi industry operators and politicians. The trend began when a ward councillor allegedly orchestrated the killings of block committee leaders. Block committee leaders represent the majority of ordinary hostel residents.
The hitmen "diversified from there", she said. Political leaders were commissioning hitmen to undertake a number of the political killings in the province.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu established the commission in October last year, chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, to investigate the high number of political killings in the province since 2011.
Police were not politically independent. Good police officers trying to do decent work got nowhere and were "politically smacked down". Cases were being interfered with and statements were being fabricated.
Since March 13, 2014, 89 people had been killed in the area. Burger said no arrests had been made.
She said a policeman who had lived in Glebelands all his life had been arming hostel residents and earned too much to be living there. Police "are not only not clean, they are actively involved in violence".
Hitmen were using police-issued R1 assault rifles. There was large-scale bribery and the Umlazi SAPS had lost all credibility.
"They have proved themselves to be, in the majority, absolutely corrupt."
Burger said Glebelands hitmen were behind the recent shooting of three ANC councillors, including former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, in Umzimkhulu. An R1 was used in one of these hits.
"There was a collection of money to pay the killers for guns [and] ammunition. Apparently some of the residents were forced to do the collections."
Collections were used to bribe investigating officers, prosecutors, and magistrates.
National police needed to intervene, Burger said.