No end to po­lit­i­cal mur­ders in KZN

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

As KwaZulu-Na­tal’s com­mis­sion of in­quiry into po­lit­i­cal killings pre­pares to go about its work in earnest, the chair of the in­ves­tiga­tive struc­ture ex­pressed con­cerns over the seem­ingly un­end­ing cy­cle of vi­o­lence.

As bod­ies con­tinue to pile up, Ad­vo­cate Marumo Mo­er­ane SC, chair of the probe ap­pointed last Oc­to­ber by Premier Wil­lies Mchunu, ex­pressed shock at a wave of po­lit­i­cal killings that are con­tin­u­ing long af­ter the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions took place in Au­gust last year.

“We will be look­ing into the un­der­ly­ing causes of the killing of politi­cians. It is cer­tainly of con­cern to me to see that the killings are con­tin­u­ing,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to statis­tics pre­sented by veteran vi­o­lence mon­i­tor Mary de Haas, at least 12 po­lit­i­cal killings have taken place since the com­mis­sion was pro­claimed, among them coun­cil­lors, mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials and civic ac­tivists.

The bulk of the killings have taken place at Gle­be­lands and KwaMashu hos­tels in Dur­ban, Est­court in the Mid­lands and iNt­shanga, west­ern Dur­ban, while a spate of pre-elec­tion mur­ders hit Newcastle, Lady­smith and the Zu­l­u­land towns of Non­goma, Pon­gola and eDumbe.

Mo­er­ane is also wor­ried that the com­mis­sion has al­ready served half of its term, which ends in Oc­to­ber, while its in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the hear­ings have barely scratched the sur­face.

“There have been some de­lays and we have lost a bit of time. We are al­ready half­way into our term and we will have to see how we progress to Septem­ber. Hope­fully, we won’t have to ask for an ex­ten­sion,”

Po­lit­i­cal mur­ders in KwaZulu-Na­tal

said Mo­er­ane.

Mchunu es­tab­lished the com­mis­sion to also look at where state re­sources could be de­ployed to pre­vent con­flicts and con­tain them.

The com­mis­sion sat last week to hear “scene-set­ting” ev­i­dence from aca­demics, in­clud­ing De Haas.

De­lays were also caused by the ap­point­ment process for the head of a nine-mem­ber in­ves­ti­ga­tions team. For­mer KwaZulu-Na­tal head of de­tec­tives and Scor­pi­ons in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Bri­gadier Clif­ford Mar­ion, was ap­pointed to run the in­ves­ti­ga­tions team. It is ex­pected to as­sess closed, un­re­solved and un­solved po­lit­i­cal mur­ders since 2011.

Mar­ion was part of the in­ves­tiga­tive task unit that probed po­lit­i­cal killings for the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion. He has also dealt with many high-pro­file po­lit­i­cal cases in the prov­ince, in­clud­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of United Demo­cratic Move­ment leader in Rich­mond, Si­fiso Nk­abinde.

The com­mis­sion, which sits again from May 9 to May 12 and May 23 to May 26, will pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions to the premier on pos­si­ble steps to pre­vent fur­ther killings and would pass on new ev­i­dence around killings to the po­lice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion.

Com­mis­sion sec­re­tary Solo Mdle­dle said the com­mis­sion will hear ev­i­dence on some of the con­flicts that had dogged the prov­ince for years, among them the deadly block war at Um­lazi’s Gle­be­lands hos­tel that claimed more than 70 lives. It will also hear wit­ness tes­ti­mony about the on­go­ing war be­tween the ANC and SA Com­mu­nist Party at iNt­shanga and the re­tal­ia­tory as­sas­si­na­tions at Est­court.

Mdle­dle said part of the task was to sep­a­rate po­lit­i­cal mur­ders from crim­i­nal ones.

“We will work in par­al­lel with po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions as the premier wants us to in­ves­ti­gate the un­der­ly­ing causes. He is in­ter­ested in un­der­stand­ing why politi­cians are be­ing mur­dered,” he said.

Mdle­dle said mem­bers of the pub­lic who had ev­i­dence should come for­ward and promised those who had sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion that there would be means to en­sure that they pro­vided it con­fi­den­tially.

“There is a hope that we are go­ing to come up with some kind of so­lu­tion for the mur­ders. We are un­der pres­sure be­cause of [re­cent mur­ders] in iNt­shanga and Rich­mond. We are try­ing to catch up with the num­bers, but the num­bers keep in­creas­ing,” Mo­er­ane said.

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