Burglars hit Buthelezi

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Two IFP leaders, including president Mangosuthu Buthelezi, have become the latest victims of brazen robberies at the homes of high-ranking politicians.

Intruders broke into Buthelezi's home in Ulundi as well as that of the party's MP Agnes Mncwango.

The incidents yesterday sparked an angry call by the IFP that "President Thabo Mbeki must abandon his denialist attitude" on crime and face the reality that crime in the country has "spiralled out of control".

Neither of the leaders was at home at the time of the robberies and no injuries were reported.

Buthelezi's home is under 24-hour security but the robbers still struck and made off with valuables worth more than R100000.

Mncwango's home was not under protection at the time of the burglary.

"We have been warning about crime for years now but the Mbeki government has brushed it aside as alarmist and unfounded," said IFP secretary-general Musa Zondi yesterday.

"As a party we view the escalation of crime as being at an unmanageable proportion.

"If urgent steps are not taken by the government to address this catastrophe as a matter of priority and to at all costs protect the underlying and founding principles of our Constitution, all will be lost," he said.

"The Mbeki government must abandon its denialist attitude and accept first and foremost that crime has spiralled out of control," Zondi said.

Provincial police said yesterday that they had stepped up their investigations after the burglaries at the homes of the two politicians.

This is not the first time that the homes of high-profile politicians have been burgled in the province.

Last year intruders broke into the Durban homes of two key ANC leaders, Premier S'bu Ndebele and transport and community safety and liaison MEC Bheki Cele.

Neither Ndebele nor Cele were at home at the time of the burglaries.

But several other family members were asleep at the Ndebele household.

Both homes were under 24-hour security guard protection at the time of the burglaries.

Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu said police are interrogating the private security guard who was on guard duty at Buthelezi's A section Ulundi home at the time of the burglary.

"We know that a private security guard provided by the department of works was on guard at the time.

"We also know that two intruders entered the home on Monday and took valuables including two television sets, a microwave, clothing, linen and some utensils," he said.

Mngomezulu said electrical appliances and two cheques were stolen from Mncwango's home.

No arrests have been made in either of the two cases.

Last month, criminals did not even spare the first citizen, President Thabo Mbeki, when they stole a lightning protector from his Pretoria home.

In February last year, Gauteng MEC for safety, Firoz Cachalia, was attacked while taking a walk with his wife Nazira near Emmarentia Dam.

Their attackers, armed with knives, demanded that Nazira hand over her wedding ring and watch.

On February 21 last year, ANC national executive committee member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's Soweto house was robbed of jewellery estimated at R4million.

On August 13 2005, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka's Morningside house was broken into.

The robbers managed to evade detection by the two policemen who were assigned to regular guard duty on the premises.

The alarm failed to pick up the movements of the thugs who stole her laptop, handbag and cellphones while she was sleeping with her husband.

Their son was also in the house.

The suspects arrested were released after they could not be linked to the robbery.