Cor­rup­tion tied to po­lit­i­cal killings

The KwaZulu-Natal ANC coun­cil­lor had been push­ing to have a sus­pect ten­der probed by the Hawks

Mail & Guardian - - News - Paddy Harper

Amove to un­cover al­leged cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing a mu­nic­i­pal ten­der at Umz­imkhulu that bal­looned from R4-mil­lion to R37-mil­lion may be be­hind the death of ANC Youth League sec­re­tary gen­eral Sindiso Ma­gaqa.

An ANC coun­cil­lor of the Umz­imkhulu lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity, late last year he had passed on doc­u­men­ta­tion that al­legedly proved the cor­rup­tion to the Hawks. In July, he and ANC coun­cil­lors Nontsikelelo Mafa and Jabu Maziya were wounded in an am­bush. Ma­gaqa, who had ap­peared to be re­cov­er­ing, died on Mon­day.

Thabiso Zulu, a close com­rade of Ma­gaqa, says Ma­gaqa gave him doc­u­men­ta­tion al­legedly prov­ing cor­rup­tion in the ten­der for up­grad­ing the Umz­imkhulu Me­mo­rial Hall. Con­trac­tors in­volved in the upgrade, which has still not been com­pleted, were paid be­fore start­ing work, with the cost spi­ralling to R37-mil­lion.

“I can con­firm that Sindiso gave me the doc­u­ments af­ter re­peat­edly rais­ing [ques­tions about] the con­tract in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. I did what he asked me to do and passed them on to the Hawks, the anti-cor­rup­tion task team.

“The doc­u­ments al­legedly proved cor­rup­tion and over­pric­ing in the con­tract. We were push­ing ahead with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, send­ing emails and fol­low­ing up with the rel­e­vant peo­ple,” Zulu said.

“I don’t want to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where po­lice fo­cus on one is­sue. He was a politi­cian. He had en­e­mies, but this is one of the key is­sues he was work­ing on. I have given the doc­u­ments to every­body who could pos­si­bly do some­thing.”

Ma­gaqa had re­turned to ANC pol­i­tics af­ter serv­ing a one-year sus­pen­sion im­posed in 2012 at a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing at which then youth league pres­i­dent Julius Malema was ex­pelled. He was de­ployed as a pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion coun­cil­lor last year.

Ma­gaqa’s death fol­lows that of speaker and ANC deputy re­gional sec­re­tary Khaya Tho­bela, who died in a hail of bul­lets in April. Mduduzi Shibase, ear­marked to take over as speaker from Tho­bela, was gunned down two weeks later. Both had been in­volved in in­ves­ti­gat­ing the con­tract at coun­cil level.

“Sindiso be­lieved the way to stop the as­sas­sins was to ar­rest the flow of money be­ing used to pay the killers. If you stop the il­le­gal flow of money and cor­rup­tion, you also then get to stop­ping the things that are be­ing done with the money,” Zulu said.

Zulu, who served with Ma­gaqa in the league and later in the ANC in the Harry Gwala re­gion, un­der which Umz­imkhulu falls, said he felt ob­li­gated to make the in­for­ma­tion public.

“I owe it to Sindiso to make this public. I have been say­ing two things to ev­ery in­ves­ti­ga­tor — ex­pe­dite the cor­rup­tion cases that have been re­ported to the Hawks here since 2016 and look at the role of crime in­tel­li­gence in fac­tional ANC pol­i­tics in this area,” Zulu said.

Demo­cratic Al­liance coun­cil­lor Hlan­ganani Lukhozi said the up­grad­ing of the hall had been a burn­ing is­sue at coun­cil.

“The con­trac­tor was paid be­fore do­ing the job. The hall has been built and de­stroyed and then re­built. They said the first con­trac­tor had failed to build it prop­erly. We are told it will still take another 18 months, but the ac­tual work was meant to have been done from 2015,” Lukhozi said.

He said Ma­gaqa had been vo­cal about the con­tract and the dis­cov­ery of nearly 80 ghost em­ploy­ees in the Harry Gwala District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Lukhozi, who was kid­napped, drugged and dumped in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg last year, said he and other coun­cil­lors feared for their lives.

“There have been three ANC coun­cil­lors killed here. It will not end there. Even we as op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors are not safe,” he said.

On Fri­day night, ANC sub­re­gional trea­surer Du­misani Dlamini was gunned down at Ix­opo, which falls un­der the same ANC re­gion. It is not clear at this stage whether the shoot­ing is re­lated to the on­go­ing killings in the re­gion. Po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Jay Naicker re­ferred ques­tions to the Hawks for com­ment.

The ten­sions in the area were ev­i­dent this week when the ANC lead­er­ship vis­ited Ma­gaqa’s home. Lo­cal res­i­dents pre­vented Umz­imkhulu mayor Mphuthumi Mpa­banga, mu­nic­i­pal man­ager Mzweliphansi Skosana and ANC provin­cial deputy sec­re­tary Mluleki Ndobe from en­ter­ing the house.

An ANC mem­ber from Umz­imkhulu, who asked not to be named, said Ma­gaqa had in­tended to stand for a po­si­tion at the re­gional con­fer­ence later this year.

The re­gion is split be­tween ANC trea­surer gen­eral Zweli Mkhize and for­mer African Union Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana DlaminiZuma.

“Sindiso had been lob­bied to stand. He was go­ing to con­test the post of re­gional deputy sec­re­tary,” he said.

Speak­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg on Thurs­day about the po­lit­i­cal killings in the prov­ince, Mkhize said his sus­pi­cion was that “quite a lot of crim­i­nal el­e­ments might have em­bed­ded them­selves within the close prox­im­ity of busi­ness, ad­min­is­tra­tion, po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship”.

“And there they be­gin to act on peo­ple with­out the proper struc­tures of the ANC be­ing aware, and that for me is some­thing that needs to be nipped in the bud. You can­not have in any of our in­sti­tu­tions these kind of mafia op­er­a­tions.”

ANC provin­cial sec­re­tary Su­per Zuma said on Thurs­day that two teams had been set up to in­ves­ti­gate the cause of the killings and to en­cour­age tol­er­ance.

He said the ANC would ap­pear be­fore the Mo­er­ane com­mis­sion of in­quiry into po­lit­i­cal killings and pro­vide it with “our in­ter­pre­ta­tion and anal­y­sis on the cur­rent killings of our peo­ple”.

Zuma dis­puted the claim by Malema on Wednesday that Ma­gaqa had been on the verge of join­ing the EFF.

Malema said: “I told him many times to leave the ANC to come and be the na­tional or­gan­iser of the EFF be­cause I knew he loved the ground, I knew he loved work­ing with or­di­nary peo­ple on the ground.

“He agreed with me and he said, ‘Let me go and speak to my wife [and] my mother. This is done, I’m com­ing.’ I was still wait­ing for him and this hap­pened.

“I would have saved his life, I had a duty to save his life.”

But Zuma said Ma­gaqa had “re­fused sev­eral times to leave the ANC, even when a car­rot of a big po­si­tion was dan­gled be­fore him”.

Hawks spokesper­son Hang­wani Mu­laudzi said a case of mur­der would be opened. The Hawks is­sued iden­tik­its of two sus­pects in July. “We are still af­ter those sus­pects. In­ves­ti­ga­tions con­tinue,” Mu­laudzi said.

Co-op­er­a­tive gov­er­nance and tra­di­tional af­fairs spokesper­son Lennox Mabaso did not re­spond to queries. —

“Sindiso be­lieved the way to stop the as­sas­sins was to ar­rest the flow of money be­ing used to pay the killers”

Money or pol­i­tics: Umz­imkhulu coun­cil­lors live in fear af­ter the deaths of at least three peo­ple, in­clud­ing that of Sindiso Ma­gaqa (above).

Photo: Paul Botes

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