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Durban - Police are to move in hard to quell violence at the KwaMashu Hostel ahead of the elections.
This emerged on Wednesday, at a multi-party meeting – convened by the MEC for Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu – to discuss political intolerance and a recent murder at the hostel.
KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said there would be “intensive” operations in the area.
She also urged co-operation among the various political parties.
“Please do not cry when we move in because in some cases when we do our work we get complaints that people are being abused.”
These operations will include increased police patrols and intelligence-driven operations at the hostel, she said.
An additional number of police have already been deployed to KwaMashu with some moved from the neighbouring Ntuzuma police station.
Members of the National Intervention Unit and a Public Order Police platoon were already patrolling the area on Wednesday.
Further national reinforcements were expected on Sunday.
They would remain in the area until after the elections in May, Ngobeni said.
However, Ngobeni said the main question was how the situation could be stabilised even after extra police deployment had ceased.
It was counter-productive, she said, that stability was maintained for as long as police were visible, but violence started flaring as soon as they were removed.
On Monday an NFP activist, Ntombi Mzila, was shot dead by an unknown gunman at the hostel. Ngobeni said investigations into Mzila’s murder were at an advanced stage. On Saturday, two NFP members were wounded after being shot, allegedly by an IFP member.
Mchunu said he was concerned about these incidents.
“In KZN, we are messing our police up. They should be focusing on fighting crime, but in this province and only in this province, they have to deal with taxi violence, faction fights and political violence. And we have added public protests to that list,” he said.
At the meeting, an NFP member claimed knowledge of the existence of a hit list at the hostel.
“I am one of the people on that hit list. I have been informed that I would be killed for having taken people with me when I left the IFP to join the NFP. I have no choice but to leave the hostel,” said Jabu Mncwango, an NFP member.
Community Policing Forum chairman Fuhluza Khumalo also believed he was once on the hit list. Khumalo said he had reported the matter to police management and opened a case. The IFP, however, cautioned against labelling every act of violence and killings at the hostel as political arguing that there was a strong criminal element in the area.
“Killing would not help anyone, but we must look at this thing closely because we might be dressing up criminality as political violence. As political parties, we dish out many T-shirts, we don’t even ask questions. If I give somebody an IFP T-shirt today and he goes and robs a bank, would you say the IFP has robbed a bank?” argues Albert Mncwango, national executive committee member of the IFP.
The hostel had for many years been a hamlet of crime, he said.
The IFP said police should go into KwaMashu hostel “not wearing any political blinkers” and deal with anyone found to be involved in crime.
Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the ANC chairman in eThekwini, said the ANC also took seriously the incidents of political intolerance and had reined in its members in some instances where they were alleged to be involved in these.
Dhlomo condemned actions by some ANC members who on Friday prevented members of the NFP from campaigning at Shongweni.
The four-hour meeting ended in a jovial mood with the political parties agreeing to co-operate to ensure peace.
The parties also agreed to submit their political programmes in advance to the Department of Community Safety and Liaison to ensure that meetings did not clash.
They also agreed to revive the multi-party committee, while some matters like those of the alleged hit list were referred to the police.
The parties also agreed to tone down inflammatory language.