buthelezi and Zuma urged to end strife
Elders in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands yesterday appealed to IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi and ANC president Jacob Zuma to rescue the community from escalating political tensions.
The elders in Entembeisweni in Greytown believe that fighting among young political hotheads could end if the two leaders came to their area and called for peace.
ANC supporters allege that a local IFP councillor is conducting a reign of terror in the area. Last Sunday ANC supporter Vusi Gasa, 23, died when he fell 50metres down a cliff while he tried to escape a mob of IFP supporters.
Gasa was part of a group that was attacked by IFP supporters when they returned from an ANC rally in Umsinga, say witnesses.
Emergency workers retrieved Gasa from the base of a cliff more than five hours after he fell. He was taken to Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, but died on Friday.
Gogo Bongeka Ngubane said Gasa and his friends were getting off a bus when the "IFP impis attacked".
"Gasa was targeted as they accused him of hitting an IFP member's car with a T-shirt."
She said Gasa had been chased for about 4km before he toppled over the cliff.
Police were called to diffuse tensions at Gasa's funeral when IFP leaders arrived.
Entembeisweni Village is divided into distinct zones, one for ANC supporters and the other for IFP supporters. Supporters of both parties agreed that violence had simmered here since 2000.
An elder said only a few IFP supporters who feared the councillor were responsible for the attacks.
IFP supporters declined to comment on the situation.
"It is now up to Buthelezi and Zuma to play a leadership role to resolve the violence," said an elder.
IFP leader Petros Ngubane denied his supporters were responsible for Gasa's death.
"Gasa hit a car belonging to an artist in the area and he was chased by the community."
ANC Mbambatha regional secretary Bongani Xulu said: "Gasa is not the first to die. Our local chairperson Maskito Mzila was killed in 2006. There is no political freedom here."