A criminal hit squad, motivated by politics, was believed to be behind the weekend murders of two young men and the wounding of a woman in the KwaMashu hostel area, provincial community safety and liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said on Monday.
Sthembiso Biyela, 35, was killed and his partner, Buyisile Malusi, 33, injured when a gunman shot them through the window of their home.
It emerged on Monday that Biyela had defected to the ANC from the IFP last month.
An hour after the shooting Malusi Ndlovu, 24, whose political affiliation was unknown, was shot dead while walking through an alley close to the scene of the first shooting. He was on his way to visit a friend.
Mchunu said on Monday there was a prominent police presence at the hostel and this would be continually assessed.
The police are on top of things… there are leads police are following,” he said.
The hostel’s design was the most difficult issue the police faced, he said.
The area is mostly a warren of dimly lit, sewage-soaked passageways.
At least seven people have been killed and three injured in the hostel since the beginning of this year.
Biyela’s neighbour, Mhlonipheni Buthelezi, said he had been watching a movie at 9pm when he heard the gunshots followed by wailing.
“I switched off the television and stayed in my shack for a while, then I went to Biyela’s place. There were people all over the place.
“Biyela was still breathing and I tried to help him, but he was badly wounded.”
Biyela’s brother, Sipho, said he had been with his brother in the afternoon.
We suspect it was a political killing because there are rumours of a planned hit on four NFP members and three ANC members following the by-election last week.”
He said the family was distraught. “A person can be a member of a political party but, at the end of the day, he has family and his family needs him.”
It’s out of control. Suspects, in many cases, end up not being arrested and cases fizzle out… peace needs to be restored fast,” Sipho Biyela said.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said the motives for the attacks were unknown.
KZN ANC secretary general Sihle Zikalala said party supporters had received violent threats and had been told to “pack their bags and leave” after the by-election.
He called on political leaders to rein in their members and preach peace to curb bloodshed.
IFP eThekwini leader Mdu Nkosi said the killing was “puzzling”. “One wonders if these attacks are political or fuelled by other elements - village conflicts and criminality - trickling in, in the guise of political intolerance.
“We had a peaceful by-election last week and this makes one wonder,” he said.
The NFP’s Nhlanhla Khubisa said the attack was “barbaric” and “ruthless”.
No-one has a licence to take another life just because that person is affiliated to a certain political party,” he said.
Meanwhile, two NFP cars were torched in Umzumbe on the South Coast at the weekend.
Zikalala condemned the incident, distancing the ANC from the attack and saying the party did not condone violence.
NFP president Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi said if ANC members were responsible the party must take firm action against those involved.