Wit­nesses to tes­tify in cam­era

Hos­tel dwellers are too ter­ri­fied of the reper­cus­sions

The Times (South Africa) - - NEWS - NATHI OLIFANT

RES­I­DENTS of the no­to­ri­ous Gle­be­lands Hos­tel in Um­lazi, who are set to tes­tify be­fore the Mo­er­ane Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence in KwaZulu-Natal, are so ter­ri­fied that they will give ev­i­dence in cam­era.

The com­mis­sion, prob­ing the un­der­ly­ing causes of the mur­der of politi­cians in the prov­ince, re­sumes to­day, with fresh ev­i­dence ex­pected to shed light on the hos­tel’s bloody his­tory. The R15-mil­lion com­mis­sion was set up by Pre­mier Wil­lies Mchunu last Oc­to­ber. It be­gan its work in March.

To­day’s tes­ti­monies are ex­pected to cen­tre on mys­te­ri­ous and un­re­solved killings, in­tim­i­da­tion and brazen at­tempted mur­ders at the Dur­ban hos­tel.

Vanessa Burger, of ad­vo­cacy group the In­de­pen­dent Com­mu­nity Ac­tivist for Hu­man Rights and So­cial Jus­tice, which has been cen­tral to peace ini­tia­tives at Gle­be­lands, will tes­tify to­day.

“Yes I am tes­ti­fy­ing first on Mon­day. The other per­son who will tes­tify is a peace com­mit­tee mem­ber [and] com­mu­nity leader. His tes­ti­mony will prob­a­bly be held in cam­era due to se­cu­rity con­cerns,” said Burger.

She said two Gle­be­lands com­mu­nity lead­ers had tes­ti­fied a few weeks ago. Hu­man rights ac­tivist and KwaZulu-Natal vi­o­lence mon­i­tor Mary de Haas’s tes­ti­mony in March also covered the hos­tel.

The no­to­ri­ous hos­tel was thrust into the na­tional spot­light by the Public Pro­tec­tor, Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane, re­cently.

Mkhwe­bane be­rated the SA Po- lice Ser­vice, the eThek­wini metro po­lice and the eThek­wini mu­nic­i­pal­ity for fail­ing res­i­dents of the hos­tel.

She said this had led to a string of killings and evic­tions.

She said po­lice failed to pre­vent‚ com­bat and in­ves­ti­gate crimes‚ main­tain public or­der and up­hold and en­force the law.

The Com­mon­wealth Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion lodged the com­plaint with the public pro­tec­tor, cit­ing fre­quent killings and un­law­ful evic­tions at the hos­tel.

Since March 2014 77 peo­ple have re­port­edly been killed at the hos­tel. But Burger puts the num­ber at 89 as of July 13. She said 14 of those killed were po­lit­i­cal lead­ers from sur­round­ing ar­eas, Dur­ban and the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

“A fur­ther six mur­ders re­main un­con­firmed, but are sus­pected to have been car­ried out by Gle­be­lands killers. De­spite nearly three times the num­ber of peo­ple killed at Marikana — the big­gest blot on our democ­racy since 1994 — Gle­be­lands has to date re­mained a na­tional blindspot,” said Burger.

Ad­vo­cate Marumo Mo­er­ane chairs the com­mis­sion. The other com­mis­sion­ers are ad­vo­cate Vasu Gounden and pro­fes­sor Ch­eryl Pot­gi­eter. Solo­muzi Mdle­dle is the com­mis­sion’s sec­re­tary. Bheki Many­athi and Michelle Andile Ngqanda are ev­i­dence lead­ers.

‘ Six mur­ders are un­con­firmed, but we sus­pect the Gle­be­lands killers

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