‘Killing sea­son’ per­sists in KwaZulu-Na­tal

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

Slain ANC mem­ber Ntokozo “Lithi” Ma­phu­mulo shouted out that he was dy­ing sec­onds af­ter he was shot out­side his mother’s home in eMah­longwa, Scot­tburgh, this week.

The 41-year-old, who was killed by men in po­lice uni­form, was a former coun­cil­lor and re­gional ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the ANC Youth League on KwaZulu-Na­tal’s south coast. Ma­phu­mulo’s name is the lat­est to be added to the body count of mur­dered politi­cians in the prov­ince.

When City Press ar­rived at his home on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, his sis­ters pointed to the spot where his life­less body had lain in a pool of blood and rain wa­ter, just two weeks af­ter the birth of his child.

Re­call­ing the events of Tues­day night, Ma­phu­mulo’s sis­ter Nokubonga said that his killers must have known his rou­tine well. Ev­ery day, he would go to the fam­ily home for sup­per be­fore pro­ceed­ing to his own house just a few kilo­me­tres away.

“One of the chil­dren had just walked into the room where we all were. He said, ‘malume has just ar­rived, he is sit­ting in the car’. His hand was on the door han­dle when the first gun­shot rang out. Our mother, who is a nurse, im­me­di­ately dropped to the floor. There was a sec­ond gun­shot and he screamed: ‘Awe, ma’. The third shot came, and again he cried out, ‘Awe ma, ngazen­gafa [I’m dy­ing]’,” Nokubonga said.

She said that even as her brother cried out, none of the peo­ple in the house had re­alised that it was him who had been shot.

Their older brother, Sbu, ran out­side to see what had hap­pened; two young chil­dren followed him. Men hold­ing guns told them to go back in­side the house. The shoot­ers then sped off in Ma­phu­mulo’s car.

An­other of Ma­phu­mulo’s sis­ters, Lulu Zulu, said her brother’s killers had the au­dac­ity to re­turn to the crime scene to pick up the spent car­tridges.

Zulu said that, when she ar­rived from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg af­ter re­ceiv­ing a call about the shoot­ing, she found her brother’s bloody body ly­ing in the rain.

“He was just ly­ing there, help­less. Such a strong man, just [ly­ing] in his own blood,” she said.

Zulu said the fam­ily was in the dark about the motive for the killing as Ma­phu­mulo had no en­e­mies that they knew of.

“If he was still a coun­cil­lor, maybe we could get a lead from that, but he was no longer one, so we re­ally have no idea,” Zulu said, wrap­ping the blan­ket draped across her shoul­ders tighter around her body.

At least 60 peo­ple are be­lieved to have been as­sas­si­nated in KwaZulu-Na­tal since April 2014.

Premier Wil­lies Mchunu es­tab­lished a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the po­lit­i­cal killings in October 2016. The com­mis­sion, which has a bud­get of R15 mil­lion and is be­ing chaired by Ad­vo­cate Marumo Mo­er­ane, be­gan its work in March.

In the past two weeks alone, four peo­ple have been shot dead at the Gle­be­lands Hos­tel in Um­lazi.

The com­mis­sion is ex­pected to com­plete its work by the end of this year.

Ad­dress­ing a meet­ing of the Young Com­mu­nist League shortly af­ter vis­it­ing the Ma­phu­mulo home, former KwaZulu-Na­tal premier Senzo Mchunu warned the gath­er­ing that the killing sea­son had once again been de­clared in the prov­ince.

He called for ex­tra vig­i­lance and for peo­ple to take pre­cau­tions – such as driv­ing past their homes and scan­ning the area first be­fore en­ter­ing, par­tic­u­larly late at night.

He also called for the gath­er­ing to ob­serve a mo­ment of si­lence for Ma­phu­mulo, af­ter which the group som­brely sang Hamba kahle Umkhonto weSizwe.

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TAR­GET Ntokozo ‘Lithi’ Ma­phu­mulo and Deputy Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Bheki Cele

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