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Army ready to quell KZN violence

By unknown | Feb 03, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe, Mary Papaya and Anna Majavu

Canaan Mdletshe, Mary Papaya and Anna Majavu

The army is ready to roll into KwaZulu-Natal and stop a possible repeat of l the violence that erupted at the weekend between ANC and IFP supporters.

Yesterday Defence Minister Charles Nqakula announced that he was ready to deploy soldiers in the violence-ridden province.

"Wherever there is the threat of violence in the run-up to the elections, a combination of police officers and soldiers will be deployed," Nqakula said in Cape Town.

At least eight ANC members, an MP and senior royal family member Prince Zeblon Zulu were injured on Sunday when the rival parties simultaneously held electioneering rallies in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Nongoma.

Zulu was attacked and shot at just hours after the ANC rally had finished.

His daughter-in-law, Princess Doris Zulu, had to be airlifted to a Durban hospital after she was shot in the forehead.

Unknown armed assailants apparently attacked Zulu's homestead on Saturday evening. No one was injured during the attack.

In another incident, Bongani Ngcobo, chairman of the ANC Nongoma sub-region, was shot and wounded, allegedly by an IFP councillor in full view of his colleagues.

The wife of the IFP councillor in Nongoma has since been arrested after she was found in possession of an unlicensed firearm. She was expected to appear in court yesterday.

The ANC has blamed the IFP for fuelling the weekend violence.

"Right from the beginning, the IFP decided to stage their rally on the same day and place as ours.

"We decided to change venues and moved somewhere else, but our people were attacked by IFP supporters while they were setting up the stage," ANC provincial secretary Senzo Mchunu said yesterday.

"Either IFP members are doing exactly what the party wants them to do or the IFP is now full of thugs and that the leadership has totally lost control," said Mchunu.

But IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi put the blame squarely on the shoulders of community safety and liaison MEC Bheki Cele, whom he accused of instructing the police to brutalise his supporters. He said the IFP supporters were summarily tear-gassed and shot at with rubber bullets without provocation when they attempted to reach their election rally destination on foot.

"The clashes between IFP supporters and the SAPS would never have happened had it not been for the gross interference on the part of Cele in the work of the SAPS."

Political analyst Protas Madlala, however, said the political leaders were to blame.

Madlala blames the leaders for lack of proper leadership and failure to act decisively against the perpetrators of violence within their parties.

KwaZulu-Natal has seen the rise of political violence since late last year.

In December, IFP youth brigade leader Bhekinkosi Dube was shot dead in northern Zululand.

ANC member Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi was also murdered in Durban's Umlazi township on January 22.

S'thembiso Cele, the chairman of the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal's Umgababa on the south coast, was shot dead the following day.


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