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A series of attacks took place in Richmond early on Wednesday, leaving councillors fearing for their lives.
It started with a petrol bomb being thrown into councillor Douglas Kunene’s home in Indaleni just after midnight and ended at 4am with people trying to set alight a tractor belonging to the father of Thulani Shabalala, the council’s Speaker.
Kunene was awakened by his dogs barking. As he walked down the passage to investigate, he heard a loud noise.
“They threw a petrol bomb through the dining room window,” he said.
Kunene said there was about R5 000 damage.
At about 1am, a petrol bomb was thrown into the back of Shabalala’s bakkie.
Shabalala said he had also found the remains of five petrol bombs flung against the walls of his house, but these had failed to cause damage.
A rondavel of one of his friends had been set alight and destroyed.
Shabalala later found out that somebody had also tried to burn his father’s tractor.
“We are being targeted.”
The incidents follow several others.
In July, five shots were fired at mayor Andrew Ragavaloo’s home at 1am while he and his family were asleep. No one was injured.
On August 16, Shabalala’s car was torched and, three days later, the home of his bodyguard, Sazini Ngcobo, was set alight.
Ngcobo was not at home when the attackers threw petrol bombs, but his sons, 23 and 18, were there and narrowly escaped injury.
Last month, a fire broke out at the prefabricated Richmond municipal offices, situated near the mayor’s office. The cause was being investigated.
Shabalala would not comment on the link between the attacks and politics.
Ragavaloo said: “A small collective of disgruntled or power-hungry criminals is hell-bent on destabilising Richmond. It seems to be aimed at intimidating councillors to resign.”
Police spokesman Jay Naicker said the situation in Richmond was under control.
He said that two cases of arson were being investigated, but no arrests had been made.
“We have deployed additional members of the Public Order Police Unit to stabilise the area while detectives are investigating the incidents of criminality that were reported,” he said.
In the dying days of apartheid, more than 2 000 people died during political violence in Richmond. The town has been fairly stable for the past decade.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said the situation was being monitored. ANC representatives had been to the town to listen to grievances.