Former ANCYL secretary general Sindiso Magaqa was seriously wounded after being shot. File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/ANA Pictures
Durban - The shootings of former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and two other councillors in the uMzimkhulu Municipality last week were the culmination of a series of death threats, SMSes and hidden calls to ANC leaders in the Harry Gwala region.

This was revealed on Sunday by Sindi Msomi, ANC secretary in Harry Gwala, and uMzimkhulu mayor Mphuthumi Mpabanga.

Both leaders said being a leader in the southern KwaZulu-Natal region was life-threatening as most of them had received threats through SMSes and calls from hidden or unverified telephone numbers.

Msomi said Magaqa, who is the proportional representation (PR) councillor and member of the executive committee in the municipality, had previously received threatening messages and unknown calls.

Both Msomi and Mpabanga said they had also been victims of the threats for several months.

“Comrade Magaqa has been receiving numerous calls and SMSes. This is not once-off.

“We know, as the region, about these threats, and they keep coming. It does not mean that every time he (Magaqa) gets a call or SMS he reports them, but he has reported threats,” said Msomi.

Magaqa, the PR councillor in Ward 11, together with councillor for the ward Nsiki Mafa, and Ward 16 councillor Jabu Msiya, were shot and injured in Ibisi village while returning from an ANC meeting last week.

Msomi said the gunmen were in a white Mercedes-Benz.

“The councillors said in hospital that when they parked their car at a shop, there was an unknown red BMW, which left immediately after their arrival.

“Soon afterwards a white Mercedes-Benz arrived and the gunmen fired shots from inside the car,” said Msomi.

Leaders

The region had become a killing zone for leaders. Ward 14 councillor Mduduzi Shibase 39, was fatally shot in May at his home in Gugwini village.

His murder took place two weeks after the funeral of uMzimkhulu municipal Speaker and ANC deputy secretary in Harry Gwala, Khaya Thobela, who was also gunned down.

Msomi said she had also received threats, the last one came last week.

“I received a call last week from someone who said ‘you think you are too clever, and we will get you’.

“It came from a private number. Sometimes the number is displayed, but when I tried to call it back, it does not exist.”

Msomi ruled out that the tension in Harry Gwala might have to do with service delivery, “as we’ve never had service delivery protest marches”.

But there were fears that the tension was connected to an upcoming elective regional conference.

Msomi said the event was to take place last month, but was postponed to a later date as the region was still conducting branch membership auditing, followed by branch meetings.

“Whenever there are conferences, there are different views, but those are normal differences whenever we are approaching conferences, as we see some people as potential leaders while others see other people,” she said.

Mpabanga said the death threats and murders had affected the operations of the municipality, “as councillors cannot work while fearing for their lives”.

“I have also received death threats. Last month my house was broken into, but nothing was stolen,” he said.

“We fear for our lives. I am also a victim of these threats,” said Mpabanga.

She believed the murders of Shibase and Thobela and the latest attempted murder were connected, and linked the tension to the current ANC infighting.

“I can only appeal to ANC members to talk about the problems. There is no need for us to ambush each other,” said Mpabanga.

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