Body count on the rise
Fear mounts in KwaZulu-Natal municipalities as political killings increase
“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.
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