52 councillors dead in KZN political killings

06 September 2023 - 15:19
By Sakhiseni Nxumalo
Police minister Bheki Cele and KZN commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi addressed an interministerial committee meeting in Durban on Wednesday. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda Police minister Bheki Cele and KZN commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi addressed an interministerial committee meeting in Durban on Wednesday. File photo.

More than 300 cases have been investigated since July 2018 by the multidisciplinary police task team investigating political killings in KwaZulu-Natal, including 155 murders. 

Police minister Bheki Cele and KwaZulu-Natal commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi addressed an interministerial committee meeting in Durban on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday, the ministers of state security, defence, justice and correctional services met to discuss the work of the task team investigating political killings in KZN.

Cele said since July 4 2018, the team has investigated 321 cases.

“This figure includes 134 cases reported from 2011 to June 2018, before the commencement of the work of the task team. The cases under scrutiny include 155 murders, 51 attempted murders, 77 of intimidation, 12 of conspiracy to murder [and] 26 other cases.”

Cele said 348 suspects have been charged in 233 cases.

He said 62 suspects have been convicted, 155 were in court and 17 arrested suspects have died.

Firearms were the weapon of choice for most attacks on councillors, political office bearers and municipal officials.

The team has recovered 46 firearms from suspects, which are linked through ballistics to multiple political murders.”

eThekwini was an area of concern and now the focus of attention, he said.

Of the 52 murder cases of councillors, 31 were ANC councillors while 14 were from the IFP. The NFP lost four councillors, the EFF two and the ACDP one.

A total of 103 municipal officials and political office bearers were killed.

Three men charged with the murder of Msunduzi ANC councillor Mabhungu Mkhize, 45, abandoned their bail application on Monday. Sithembiso Gqirashe, 27, Minenhle Mkhulise, 23, and Luleka Ntombela, 26, appeared in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate's court. They are charged with murder and the attempted murder of Muzikhona Dlongolo, who was with Mkhize at the time of the shooting at Imbali Unit 14 two weeks ago.

Cele said the cause of the crimes are linked to intrapolitical conflict with a few cases linked to other motives, such as taxi violence, domestic-related issues, business competition and traditional leadership competition, as well as family feuds.

Murder cases reported before the 2016 and 2021 municipal elections were mainly as a result of fighting over councillor positions.

Most murder cases reported after the 2016 and 2021 elections were associated with infighting in structures and municipalities over positions.

Cele said in politically related cases and parallel cases of murder, attempted murder, intimidation, extortion, malicious damage to property and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, 100 accused were found guilty in 94 cases.

Eighteen people were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Thirty-four accused were sentenced to between 10 and 73 years in jail, 28 to between one and nine years and 15 to between three and 12 months.

Cele said heading to the general elections next year, efforts are being made to boost the work of the committee as well as investigations. 

The committee resolved to appoint dedicated courts to speedily prosecute these matters.

“The [committee] calls on political parties to strengthen internal mechanisms to defuse inter- and/or intratensions and instability that may escalate and lead to political attacks and killings.”

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