22 August 2017

South Africa: Police Tipped Off of Councillor's Killing - Moerane Commission Hears

A councillor in the Estcourt area in KwaZulu-Natal believes that the killing of his friend and fellow councillor in 2011 could have been prevented.

IFP councillor Thokozani Dubazana was testifying on Tuesday at the Moerane Commission on political killings in the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality and KZN.

He was speaking his friend of 10 years and councillor at the time, Mcebisi Duma, who was killed in a hail of bullets by hitmen on February 16, 2011.

Political turmoil

Dubazana testified that at the time of Duma's killing, there was a high level of political instability and turmoil in the province.

Dubazana, who was previously an NFP councillor between 2011 and 2015, said that Duma was killed a month before the NFP was formed.

He explained that he and a group of IFP members had left the party because of "misunderstandings and fighting within the party for positions".

"We left the party and stood to take many votes with us. There were threats directed to people expelled from the IFP. Threats came from the IFP. We lived under stressful conditions, but the community was supportive."

Dubazana said on the day of Duma's murder, they had convened a local meeting. He said that on his way home after the meeting, he received news that Duma was killed on the P29 road.

"After I received the call, I went to the scene, saw Duma in his white Honda with a gun between his legs. His car was facing the opposite direction that he was travelling to. There were holes showing he was shot inside the car. Bullets were in the car and windscreen."

Dubazana said that shortly after his murder, a red Toyota Corolla was identified as the vehicle used by the hitmen.

Three men were eventually arrested and convicted for the murder, the commission heard.

Hit list before murders

According to Dubazana, there was a hit list of people that were meant to be killed.

"Yes, Duma was the second one on the list. I was toward the end, the fifth and sixth on the list."

He claimed that police were aware of the list, but said nothing was done to investigate the matter. He also alleged that police were easily bribed.

According to Dubazana, police knew about the hit on Duma on the day of his murder.

"Before Duma was killed, if they reacted quickly, he wouldn't have been killed. Police knew an hour before that he was going to be killed. They received information from someone else who was part of the hit squad. Police had been informed that a vehicle was out to kill Duma. Police did not respond to that intelligence."

He added that the police station was less than 5km from where Duma was killed.

"Police could have been there within five minutes. Many of the police vans are often at the residence of the officer. This a common thing."

Killings will not end soon

Dubazana reckoned the killings would not end because there were some people "who do not want to be led".

He added that acquiring hitmen had become too easy.

"They [those wanting to kill someone] no longer have to be in danger. They just get someone else to go for them."

When asked if he had returned to the IFP for fear of his life, Dubazana said: "We went back to IFP not because we were scared, but because we love to go back to IFP....Things are still bad, (there are) still killings in political organisations. But the IFP is better."

He said that most political killings were related to positions of power.

"When they are in power it is easy to forget the needs of the community and do bad things. You forget it was the community that put you there."

The Moerane Commission, chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, was established in October 2016 to investigate the high number of political killings in the province since 2011.

Source: News24

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