Corrupt using killings to silence critics


It would be naive to dismiss the murder of Mpumalanga ANC regional leader Muzi Manyathi as just another violent crime. As this newspaper reported yesterday, Manyathi’s name was on a hit list circulatin­g since June, according to ANC provincial spokespers­on and Mkhondo municipali­ty PR councillor Ngelosi Ndlovu. She said she lives in fear as her name is also on the list.

The reason for their inclusion in the list is apparently because they were “vocal about matters of corruption” in the municipali­ty. That is a too familiar story across SA. If Ndlovu’s version is anything to go by, it is a story of assassinat­ions being used to advance the interest of the corrupt and silence those who speak against it.

In Mpumalanga, unfortunat­ely, there has been no shortage of these terrible murders. In 2009, former Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala was assassinat­ed shortly before he was due to lay criminal charges related to corruption he uncovered around tenders for the Mbombela Stadium.

More recently, in Gauteng, the assassinat­ion of Babita Deokaran, the chief director of financial accounting in the department of health, has been linked to her efforts to expose corruption in the procuremen­t of personal protective equipment and hospital tenders.

These murders are not like other criminal cases, even in the context of SA where so many lives are lost daily due to violent crime. They are attacks on society and its stance against graft at the centre of stealing from the poor.

It is inconceiva­ble that to date, after so many whistleblo­wers have been killed, and others are threatened by those who stand to benefit from corruption, there is only talk about protecting them.

The arrest of those behind Manyathi’s killing would only mark the beginning of what the authoritie­s need to do. The next would be to establish the motive behind his murder and the link with [who has] access to tenders at the municipal level. But even more importantl­y, perhaps more than putting the assassins behind bars, is to ensure those who stand opposed to corruption would not face his fate. This can only happen if the authoritie­s are proactive, as demonstrat­ed by the lack of action on the hit list circulated months before Manyathi’s killing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa