uThukela in lock­down as task team swoops

Ac­tion thought to be linked to the killing of a mu­nic­i­pal em­ployee

Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - CHRIS NDALISO [email protected]

A HEAV­ILY armed task team de­scended on the uThukela District Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and placed its of­fices on lock­down yes­ter­day morn­ing as part of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the mur­der of a mu­nic­i­pal em­ployee.

Mu­nic­i­pal work­ers said ma­chine gun-wield­ing in­ter-min­is­te­rial task team mem­bers ar­rived in un­marked cars and stormed the build­ing be­tween 8am and 9am, block­ing both en­trances to the yard and to the build­ing.

“I was al­ready in­side the build­ing and had done sign­ing-in for the day. As I stepped out­side, leav­ing for my depart­ment at the other side of town, I just froze when I came face to face with ma­chine gun noz­zles trained on me. I was in­structed to go back in­side, and that was the be­gin­ning of the or­deal,” said an em­ployee who de­clined to be named.

“I don’t know how many they were, but they were ev­ery­where – in­side the build­ing and all over the yard. It was scary. No one was al­lowed to leave, and no one was al­lowed to get in from the morn­ing un­til around noon.”

An­other em­ployee said the raid was linked to the mur­der of Zakhele Maz­ibuko, a mu­nic­i­pal em­ployee and IFP leader in the uThukela district.

“There were men with ma­chine guns in all the cor­ri­dors. We were con­fined to our of­fices, and noth­ing moved. Ser­vices were dis­rupted. It was not a space you would want to be in at that time. Go­ing to the bath­room or to the kitchen – as we usu­ally do – was not some­thing you would want to do at that time. Imag­ine hav­ing to walk along the cor­ri­dor past grumpy-faced men with big guns. Noth­ing could have pre­pared us for that episode,” said the em­ployee.

Maz­ibuko, 44, from Blue Bank, near Lady­smith, was shot and killed in an am­bush on Septem­ber 15 be­tween Est­court and Colenso, shortly after leav­ing an IFP uThukela District meet­ing.

He was the party’s pub­lic­ity sec­re­tary in the district.

At the time of his death, he was the oc­cu­pa­tional and health man­ager at the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The Daily News re­ported at the time that his mur­der came just two days after Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele’s an­nounce­ment of progress made by the in­ter-min­is­te­rial task team set up by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in June to in­ves­ti­gate po­lit­i­cal killings in the prov­ince.

Mbuze­leni Mkhize, the IFP’s uThukela district chair­per­son, said he had heard about the raid and that a mu­nic­i­pal em­ployee, who was also an IFP mem­ber, had been taken in by the team. “We have not been of­fi­cially con­tacted by the in­ves­ti­ga­tors, but we heard ru­mours that this raid was linked to the mur­der of com­rade Maz­ibuko. We heard about the ab­sence of two other se­nior em­ploy­ees who are be­lieved to be linked to the mur­der. At this stage we can­not say much un­til we of­fi­cially get de­tailed in­for­ma­tion from the in­ves­ti­ga­tors,” Mkhize said.

It was ru­moured that two other mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials were also taken in for ques­tion­ing, but this could not be con­firmed.

Min­is­ter Cele’s of­fice and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity were con­tacted for com­ment, but nei­ther had re­sponded by the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

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