Tide turn­ing on hit men

Eight more ar­rested for Mchunu’s mur­der

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - CLIVE NDOU

AS­cops­round­up­mur­der­ers­in­volvedin­po­lit­i­cal­killings­in­the­prov­ince,­po­licem­i­nis­ter­ Bheki­ Cele­ has­ re­vealedthat­sev­eral­il­le­gal­firearms­have­been­re­cov­ered­from­sus­pects­who­were­ar­rested­in­con­nec­tion­with­the­mur­derof­ANC­Pi­eter­mar­itzburg­ac­tivist,­Mu­sawenkosi­“Maqatha”­Mchunu.

“I­can­con­firm­that­eight­peo­ple­have­be­ing­ar­rested­in­con­nec­tion­with­theMchunu­mat­ter.­Po­lice­also­found­five­firearms­among­the­peo­ple,”­he­said.

Cele,­who­was­speak­ing­dur­ing­a­me­dia­brief­ing­by­se­cu­rity­clus­ter­min­is­ters­in­Dur­ban­yes­ter­day,­told­jour­nal­ists­that­the­eight­sus­pects­formed­partof­the­23­that­had­been­ar­rested­acrossKZN­in­con­nec­tion­with­the­mur­der­of­politi­cians­in­the­prov­ince.­“The­mes­sage­we­are­send­ing­out­with­these­ar­rests­is­that­if­you­want­to­kill­po­lit­i­cal­fig­ures­go­some­where­else,­the­time­ofact­ing­with­im­punity­is­over,”­he­said.

The­23­sus­pects­in­clude­one­who­had­been­ar­rested­for­the­mur­der­of­for­merANC­Youth­League­(ANCYL)­sec­re­tary­gen­eral,­ Sindiso­ Ma­gaqa,­ who­ died­from­ gun­shot­ wounds­ in­ Septem­ber­last­year­af­ter­he­had­been­am­bushedby­ gun­men­ near­ his­ home­town­ ofuMzim­khulu.

Cele,­who­is­the­head­of­the­in­ter­min­is­te­rial­task­team­set­up­by­Pres­i­den­tCyril­ Ramaphosa­ shortly­ af­terMchunu’s­mur­der­in­May,­said­the­sus­pect­ar­rested­in­con­nec­tion­with­Ma­gaqa’s­mur­der­was­not­the­same­as­theone­ar­rested­a­few­months­ago­but­whowas­ later­ re­leased­ be­cause­ of­ in­suf­fi­cient­ev­i­dence.­“A­sus­pect­in­the­mur­der­of­the­for­mer­Youth­League­gen­er­alsec­re­tary­ap­peared­in­court­on­13­Septem­ber.­He’s­not­the­last­one,­we’re­still­hunt­ing­some­other­peo­ple,”­he­said.

On­21­sus­pects­cur­rently­in­cus­tody,in­clud­ing­the­eight­nabbed­in­con­nec­tion­with­Mchunu’s­mur­der,­Cele­saidthe­“cul­prits”­were­in­the­process­of­be­ing­trans­ferred­to­the­no­to­ri­ous­Kok­stad­Prison­from­where­they­will­at­tend­trial­pro­ceed­ings.­“We­will­make­surethat­peo­ple­ar­rested­for­these­mur­ders­ are­sent­to­Kok­stad­so­that­they­don’tsee­the­sun­again.­We­don’t­have­to­wait­for­them­to­be­con­victed­be­fore­we­dothat.­We­are­con­fi­dent­that­we­will­be­able­to­suc­cess­fully­op­pose­bail­in­allthese­cases,”­he­said.

Cele,­ who­ de­clined­ to­ con­firmwhether­politi­cians­who­have­hired­the­hit­ men­ to­ kill­ ri­vals­ were­ part­ of­ the23­sus­pects­that­had­been­ar­rested,­is­sued­a­stern­warn­ing­to­politi­cians­in­volved­in­the­killings.

“The­tide­has­turned­and­if­you­sus­pect­that­we­need­you,­you­bet­ter­come­for­ward.­The­time­of­do­ing­things­thatyou­ are­ not­ sup­posed­ to­ be­ do­ing­ isover.­We­hear­that­they­are­peo­ple­whoare­plan­ning­to­kill­some­man­agers.

“What­we­are­say­ing­to­them­is­thatthat­time­is­over,”­he­said.

The­ar­rest­of­the­23­came­to­light­fol­low­ing­ the­ ap­pear­ance­ of­ six­ sus­pectsin­ the­ Pi­eter­mar­itzburg­ Mag­is­trate’s­Court­on­Mon­day­in­con­nec­tion­with­Mchunu’s­mur­der.

A­ for­mer­ Msun­duzi­ Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ty­coun­cil­lor,­ Mchunu­ was­ shot­ sev­er­al­times­as­he­pulled­into­his­drive­way­inkwaPata­near­iMbali.­At­the­time­of­hiskilling­Mchunu­was­the­face­of­the­cam­paignby­ a­ sec­tion­ of­ ANC­ mem­bersin­the­Moses­Mab­hida­re­gion­to­ex­posec­or­rup­tion­ and­ mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion­ in­mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties­ such­ as­ uM­gun­gundlovu­and­Msun­duzi.

Cele­said­123­in­ves­ti­ga­tors­from­theHawks,­po­lice­in­tel­li­gence,­State­Se­cu­ri­tyA­gency­ (SSA)­ and­ the­ Na­tion­alProse­cut­ing­Author­ity­(NPA)­were­as­sem­bled­in­June­to­hunt­down­po­lit­i­calas­sas­sins­ in­ the­ prov­ince.

Mean­while,­KZN­com­mu­nity­safe­tyMEC,­Mx­olisi­Kaunda,­told­jour­nal­ist­sthat­ the­ pro­vin­cial­ gov­ern­ment­ wass­ched­uled­ to­ re­lease­ the­ Mo­er­aneCom­mis­sion­re­port­on­po­lit­i­cal­killingsin­the­prov­ince­on­Thurs­day­next­week.

On­Mon­day,­crime­reg­is­trar­Nor­manSekhukhune­ told­ Par­lia­ment­ po­lit­i­cal­mur­ders­hap­pened­al­most­ex­clu­sive­lyin­KZN,­where­30­politi­cians­had­been­mur­dered­ in­ the­ year­ un­der­ re­view,com­pared­ to­ two­ politi­cians­ in­ theWestern­Cape.

PHOTO: CLIVE NDOU

From left: Po­lice min­is­ter Bheki Cele, state se­cu­rity min­is­ter Dipuo Let­satsi-Duba, act­ing Pre­mier Si­hile Zikalala and KZN com­mu­nity safety MEC, Mxoli Kaunda at a me­dia brief­ing in Dur­ban yes­ter­day on po­lit­i­cal killings in the prov­ince.

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