19 September 2017

South Africa: KZN Political Murders - IFP Accuses Police of Being 'Incompetent', 'Politically Influenced'

The Inkatha Freedom Party has accused police of being "incompetent" and "politically influenced" when dealing with political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.

IFP national chairperson Blessed Gwala told the Moerane Commission looking into political killings in the province, that police did shoddy work when his party's office bearers, including councillors and branch leaders, were shot dead.

"Our worry is the way police handle these matters. They don't report to us in terms of how far they've gone in investigating the cases. We don't have answers from police regarding the killings of IFP members," he said.

He said there were no rewards offered for information leading to arrests of those linked to the killing of IFP members and traditional leaders. This was not the case, however, for members of the ruling party.

"When a prominent ANC member is killed, a special task team is established to investigate. When a chief who represents his community is killed, no reward is offered because they are treated as second class citizens. This is a clear sign that Amakhosi (chiefs) murders are not considered high profile cases," he said.

He said the ANC had initially wanted the commission to investigate killings of its own members when it was established last year.

"Then opposition parties opposed the idea and asked the ANC why it wanted to investigate its own party, using state resources. They then incorporated other parties," he said.

'IFP is just being reckless and irresponsible'

KwaZulu-Natal ANC spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli denied Gwala's allegations, calling them "a complete misrepresentation of facts".

"The ANC never canvassed for a limited scope of the investigation to the ANC alone. We couldn't have done so, because it is not only the ANC members who died."

Ntuli accused the IFP of trying to get attention from the media with its statements.

During his testimony earlier in the day, Gwala had added that, at the time of the commission's establishment, the IFP was not able to "push" the ANC into investigating killings which had taken place prior to 2011 because this would leave the ruling party "exposed", implying that the ANC itself had contributed to the killings.

Speaking to News24, Ntuli also denied this, saying that records of history did not support Gwala's claim.

"The IFP is just being reckless and irresponsible in its utterances," he said.

Gwala said he had told the commission that 400 IFP office bearers had been killed in political violence between 1985 and 2012.

Cases 'died a natural death'

It was significant to raise this point, Gwala said, because the political violence was still continuing today. He said the Moerane Commission was tasked with investigating the killings, and in some cases it would end up investigating the very same people who had been protagonists earlier.

Gwala also took a swipe at Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, saying there was a weakness in the police service.

"When an ordinary man can be picked up from the street to lead police without any proper training, that will lead to inefficiency in police," he said.

He also accused government of protecting criminals who are involved in political killings, by not pursuing cases against them, even when there was strong evidence against those individuals.

Gwala said most murder cases, where IFP leaders had been killed, "died a natural death" because some never made it to court.

He believed this was not always the case, and suggested that it was because their cases had not been properly investigated.

The commission continues.

Source: News24

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