Durban - A ward chairman of the National freedom Party’s (NFP) youth movement in Estcourt was shot and wounded on Saturday, a day before the party’s leaders attended the funeral of a member killed in the politically charged KwaMashu Hostel.
Khulekani Dladla, 29, of Ward 2 in Wembezi Township, was shot in the left shoulder, said police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane. He said no arrests had been made.
The NFP’s secretary-general, Professor Nhlanhla Khubisa, said Dladla was returning from campaigning when he was injured in a drive-by shooting by unknown gunmen.
This was the fourth member of the NFP to be shot since political parties began campaigning in earnest for the May 7 general elections.
Mduduzi Mchunu, the IFP PR councillor in Wembezi, said he was driving a colleague home when he saw people milling around in a resident’s yard.
“A police van pulled up behind us and we went into the house with them.”
Mchunu said a wounded Dladla had run into the house.
“The residents were scared because they did not know if the shooter would be coming after him,” he said.
Mchunu said he knew Dladla well because they were neighbours. “He asked me to phone his girlfriend and uncle, who I know well because they are IFP members.”
Dladla’s shooting came on the eve of the funeral of NFP activist Ntombi Mzila, who was shot dead at KwaMashu Hostel last Monday. She was buried in Eshowe yesterday.
Nonhlanhla Biyela, a relative of Mzila and the chairwoman of the IFP Women’s Brigade, was killed on her way back from Mzila’s memorial service on Thursday.
Two more NFP members, Nomusa Nhlengana and Zama Zungu, were injured in shootings last weekend. The shootings have sparked fears of a resurgence of political violence ahead of the elections.
Khubisa said the NFP had been calling for visible policing in KwaMashu and Escourt.
“Violence will always breed violence. If arrests are made quickly, and police are visible, it will stem more killings.”
Last year Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu called for national police intervention in Wembezi, a “hot spot” plagued by political violence, where there had been nine murders and attempted murders of ANC, IFP and NFP members.
After the call, KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni established a provincial task team comprising detectives, crime intelligence officers and public order police to investigate killings in Wembezi.
Ngobeni and Mchunu were also present at a sitting of the provincial cabinet where national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega presented details of the national crime prevention strategy.
Throwing his weight behind efforts to curb violence in the run-up to the elections, the premier had said talks would be held with political leaders.
Dladla’s shooting was especially concerning because plans for a prayer service aimed at building peace and tolerance were being finalised.
Khubisa said: “These shootings, whether politically motivated or not, scare people. We don’t want to see the shedding of blood. Everyone must feel safe to campaign, the community should feel free to associate with any political party.”
Khubisa said people should not see the emergence of new political players as a threat, but as a deepening of democracy.