Political killings' witness fears for life

Slain former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa
Slain former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa
Image: Mabuti Kali.

A key witness in the controversial Moerane Commission of Inquiry into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal says his life is in danger after testifying.

A close friend of slain former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, Thabiso Zulu, was speaking in Durban yesterday after the postponement of a media briefing at which the report was expected to be publicly handed over to premier Willies Mchunu by Moerane commission chairman Advocate Marumo Moerane.

Zulu said it was not fair that he had not been provided with the transcripts of his own testimony to the commission.

"That's not fair. Why did they, in the first place, say we must appear in the commission when they knew that they can't protect private citizens?

"They asked for documents from us. I think they asked for documents from private citizens that they can't protect.

"Both threat assessment reports are positive that there are threats on our lives but the state is adamant that they are not willing to provide security to private people.

"People are getting killed all over and then what do you expect? This is the kind of behaviour that you get. They call everyone, they start late. I've been inside there when they were praying because I wanted them to see me and look into my eyes and say here is the guy we're failing," he said.

Zulu said he had instructed his lawyers to demand the transcript of his testimony.

"Why would they refuse to hand over my testimony to me. What threat can befall me because I testified in public? Everyone knows what I said. By the way, I said quite a lot of things and I even dared people and said, 'look, if you want to sue me, do so.'

"I named people, I have affidavits and forensic reports and no one is suing me."

Zulu also revealed that he had exchanged a number of text messages with Mchunu yesterday morning, demanding his protection.

"And now they act as if I never gave them documents in relation to the killing of Sindiso Magaqa. So these people are playing with our lives."

Journalists were kept waiting for more than an hour after they were told that the report was still being discussed by a special provincial cabinet meeting.

Mchunu's spokesman Thami Ngidi apologised for the delay and said a new date for a briefing on the report would be announced.

The commission of inquiry was set up by Mchunu to investigate a spate of killings in the province, suspected to be politically motivated.

The commission, which wrapped up its work in April, had requested a further extension to finalise its report by the end of May.

Mchunu will have the final say on whether the report will be made public. However, his office recently indicated that the transcripts would not be made public because key witnesses would be compromised, but there was a possibility that the transcripts may be released at a later stage with the witnesses' names censored.

However, civil rights organisation Right2Know Campaign has demanded transparency in all issues pertaining to the Moerane commission, especially in accessing transcripts and ultimately the report of the commission.

During his evidence, Zulu told the commission that he had submitted a document dealing with political killings to former acting provincial police commissioner Major-General Bheki Langa in June 2016 ahead of the local government elections but never received a response.

He also told the commission that Magaqa gave him documentation allegedly proving corruption in the tender for upgrading the Umzimkhulu Memorial Hall, which ballooned from R4-million to R37-million even though the work has not been completed.

Zulu also blamed police inefficiency in dealing with the political killings and the fact that many high-ranking police officials were serving in an acting capacity.

He also said political killings in the province were as a result of factions within political parties and a scramble for tenders.

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