MEC tells crime-fighting party to disband

Canaan Mdletshe

Isikebhe, a rather unusual crime-fighting political party which operates in different parts of KwaZulu-Natal, has been ordered to disband.

Established in 2003, the party has not contested any elections, choosing rather to be involved in the fight against crime. At the weekend KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport, community safety and liaison, Bheki Cele, ordered its immediate dissolution.

Cele accused the party of brutality. He alleged that Isikebhe assaulted crime suspects after apprehending them. He also said that a crime suspect died after being apprehended by Isikebhe.

Cele said he was concerned that Isikebhe, while trying to prevent crime, was also committing crime by taking the law into its own hands.

"Unless Isikebhe deregister as a political party and become neutral and cooperate with community policing forums and police reservists, they must not arrest anyone.

"In this country, nobody is permitted to torture a suspect because you will be committing crime yourself," said Cele.

Yesterday, Isikebhe president Joseph Sibangani Manyathi said his party was established to fight crime and will continue to do so.

"People are robbed at gunpoint of electrical appliances and their livestock, and police do nothing because they themselves are also party to crime. So we decided to form Isikebhe," he said.

He said no one had the right or power to dissolve their party because they "are for the people and by the people".