7 September 2017

South Africa: Moerane Commission Challenged to Come to Umzimkhulu

The Moerane Commission investigating political killings in KwaZulu-Natal must come to Umzimkhulu if it wants to find out the cause of the killings in the area south of the province.

This was a view expressed by most ANC members from the Harry Gwala region who spoke to News24 on Thursday.

Their concern comes after the death of former ANC secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, 35, who died at a Durban hospital on Monday, following an alleged assassination attempt on July 13.

Magaqa, Umzimkhulu's Ward 11 councillor Nonsikelelo Mafa and Ward 16 councillor Jabu Mzizi were returning from an ANC meeting when they were shot by unknown assailants.

Magaqa, who was a ward councillor at the time of his shooting, became the fourth councillor from the municipality to be killed by unknown gunmen in 2017.

In April, speaker Khaya Thobela was shot dead, former councillor Khaya Mgcwaba was gunned down in May and councillor Mduduzi Tshibase was killed at his home in Umzimkhulu later in May.

Call for council to be interrogated

Political analysts and witnesses who have testified at the Moerane Commission led by Advocate Marumo Moerane said most of the killings were related to competition over political positions.

Les Stuta, Magaqa's friend and fellow David Ndawonde Branch member in Ward 10 of the municipality, challenged the commission to visit Umzimkhulu.

"It was established last year, but it hasn't reached Umzimkhulu so far. Yet there are councillors who have been shot and killed but it has never been here to discover what's going on in Umzimkhulu. I don't think it's going to find out what's going on here. They'll speculate what the causes of the killings are," said Stuta.

The commission was established by Premier Willies Mchunu in October last year to investigate the underlying factors of political killings.

Stuta said the commission must interrogate the council of the local municipality.

"It must come here and find out from the people of the area. It must attend to the council and question them [about] what is the cause of the killing of councillors in the municipality. That's what the commission must do," he said.

It must also make recommendations to government and "those recommendations must be prioritised", he said.

Magaqa 'raised issues'

"If they (council) say the killings are caused by corruption, bring corruption investigators to Umzimkhulu. People are raising many issues about the killings in Umzimkhulu," he said.

He said the commission mustn't only focus on killings at the Glebelands Hostel.

"Since its establishment it has been sitting in Durban. It's about time that it came to Umzimkhulu," he said.

Stuta said Magaqa was killed for political reasons.

"I want to be honest; since Magaqa came back here in 2012 after being the secretary of the ANCYL, he didn't have a bodyguard. He only looked for a bodyguard after he became an executive committee member in the Umzimkhulu council where he raised issues. Why should we be in denial that his killing was politically motivated?" Stuta said.

"These killings are politically motivated, we must fight for clean governance, we must solve our own problems as the ANC," he added.

Mayor 'not aware of political tension'

Magaqa's cousin Nhlanhla Dlamini said the family also believed that Magaqa's killing was politically motivated.

"When my brother came back from being the ANCYL secretary-general he started at the bottom in his region. When he was elected to be an Exco (executive committee) member in the municipality he raised corruption issues in the council. He then told us that there were other comrades he did not see eye to eye with within the council. This year he told us that he was being followed by unknown cars. We believe that he was killed because he wanted to expose corruption in the municipality," said Dlamini.

He said the family couldn't say whether or not the commission would help stop the killings.

"Since my brother was shot some people sprang into action and police were very visible in our home. We had hoped that his shooters would be arrested soon after the shooting. But the hype only lasted for a week. After that nobody contacted the family to give us an update. They only surfaced now that he has passed away," said Dlamini.

Mayor Mphuthumi Mpabanga said he did not want to speculate about the matter.

"I don't want to speculate whether the killings in the council are politically motivated or not until the perpetrators of the killings are brought to book. The truth will only come to light when there are arrests in these killings," he said, adding that he was not aware of any political tensions in the municipality.

Mpabanga said he couldn't comment on the commission because he was "not aware how it operates".

Source: News24

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