Body count on the rise

Fear mounts in KwaZulu-Natal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as po­lit­i­cal killings in­crease

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

“WE ARE afraid and con­fused.”

These are the des­per­ate words of Umz­imkhulu Mu­nic­i­pal­ity deputy mayor Sindi Nkala, whose coun­cil has been rocked by shoot­ings and killings of coun­cil­lors since April.

This is the sit­u­a­tion in Umz­imkhulu, the erst­while East­ern Cape en­clave in south­ern KwaZu­luNatal, as it bat­tles wave af­ter wave of coun­cil­lor killings.

Coun­cil­lors in Umz­imkhulu are now liv­ing in fear fol­low­ing Thurs­day night’s at­tempted mur­der of for­mer ANC Youth League sec­re­tary-gen­eral Sindiso Ma­gaqa, now a coun­cil­lor, and two of his col­leagues, ward 11 coun­cil­lor Non­sikelelo Mafa and ward 16 coun­cil­lor Jabu Mz­izi, who were shot by un­known gun­men and hos­pi­talised.

Nkala said: “We are so afraid and con­fused, but as lead­ers we never lose hope. We hope the of­fice of [MEC Mx­olisi] Kaunda will re­solve this,” she said.

Kaunda is MEC for com­mu­nity safety in KwaZulu-Natal.

Umz­imkhulu mayor Mphuthumi Mpa­banga agreed, say­ing other coun­cil­lors are scared they could be next.

“We are liv­ing in fear and lan­guish­ing un­der a dark cloud in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity as coun­cil­lors.

‘ As coun­cil­lors we are liv­ing in fear, lan­guish­ing un­der a dark cloud

“Never be­fore have we seen some­thing like this — even dur­ing the strug­gle years. Umz­imkhulu has al­ways been sta­ble,” he said.

He said he was con­cerned the killings would start fil­ter­ing down to ser­vice de­liv­ery.

“I’m afraid even of­fi­cials and man­agers will leave us if this sit­u­a­tion per­sists. Can you blame them? This will af­fect ser­vice de­liv­ery a lot,” said Mpa­banga.

The bod­ies are not only pil­ing up in Umz­imkhulu. Just a few kilo­me­tres up the R56 in Rich­mond the sit­u­a­tion is eerily sim­i­lar.

The small KwaZulu-Natal Mid­lands town, an in­her­ently vi­o­lence- rid­den area, has be­come a val­ley of death. Mu­nic­i­pal man­ager S’bu Sit­hole was gunned down in March, fol­lowed by deputy mayor Than­dazile Phoswa three weeks later. Just re­cently coun­cil­lor Si­fiso Mkhize was killed at his home.

On Fri­day, a day af­ter Ma­gaqa’s shoot­ing, the Hawks estab­lished a task team to look into the killings. How­ever, there have been no ar­rests.

Pic­ture: REUTERS

A dog wears a cap in the na­tional colours at a polling sta­tion in Caracas, Venezuela, and a woman with a pa­tri­otic neck­lace waits to vote in an un­of­fi­cial plebiscite against President Ni­colás Maduro’s gov­ern­ment and his plan to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion

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