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KwaZulu-Natal - Two people have been taken in for questioning in connection with the murders of two ANC branch leaders who were shot while returning home from a party meeting this weekend.
Dumisani Malunga, chairman of the oShabeni Branch and secretary, Bheki Chiliza, came under attack at about 9.30pm after they had dropped off one of their members in oShabeni, in the Hibiscus Coast Municipality.
They were returning from a meeting about an upcoming by-election when unknown assailants opened fire on their vehicle.
Provincial police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said the motive for the murders was unknown and would be investigated by the Port Shepstone Organised Crime Unit. He could not say whether the killings were politically motivated.
The KwaZulu-Natal government revealed recently that 32 politically motivated murders had been reported in the province in the past four years.
Last month Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced the formation of a high-level task team to investigate these killings.
National police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said the task team had made significant developments in recent weeks and several arrests had been made.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the murders of three National Freedom Party members – Thulebona Jackie Nhlebele, Mthunzi Gwala and Thami Mnyango.
The ruling party said in a statement yesterday that the killing of ANC leaders in the province was of grave concern.
“We are very concerned with the killing of our comrades. This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
“We would like to express shock and disgust at the latest killing and we would also like to send our condolences to members of their families,” said ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala.
The ANC is also pleading with the community to assist police with any information regarding the perpetrators.
KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu said the death of two ANC leaders came days after they had commended the good work by the police in apprehending two suspects linked to the killing of Hibiscus Coast councillor Wandile Mkhize and his friend Nhlakanipho Shabane.
Spokesman for the municipality, Simon Soboyisa, called for calm in the community and asked that crime intelligence be brought in to investigate the killings.
Violence monitor, Mary de Haas, said the fact that the two members had come from a party meeting suggested that it could have been an inter-party killing.
De Haas said the killings could also be linked to the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung.
“On the surface it appears that the province [KwaZulu-Natal] is behind Jacob Zuma to be re-elected, but we know there are some strong personalities within this province pushing for a change in leadership,” she said.
De Haas said depending on who the the two leaders backed, the killing may have been orchestrated by pro-Zuma backers or anti-Zuma backers who did not agree with them.
SACP provincial secretary Themba Mthembu also condemned the killings.
Other cases reported since last year:
March 1, 2011
Councillor Wiseman Mshibe was shot and killed at his home. Nkosiyabo Ngubane and Xolani Aaron Zuma were arrested and denied bail in July.
July 11, 2011
ANC eThekwini regional secretary S’bu Sibiya was shot and killed at his home in Inanda after the local government elections. Xolani Zulu was arrested and denied bail in December.
May 1, 2012
NFP member Bongani Shelembe, 52, came under fire on the R33 Main Road in the Nsongeni area. Four suspects, Nonsindiso Dlamini, 22, Mkhonzeni Ntuli, 37, Mlindeli Mchunu, 31 and Mzonjani Mgwaba, 41 were arrested.
July 6, 2012
National Freedom Party councillor Thulebona Jackie Nhlebele, 46, was shot while travelling from uMsinga to Dundee. Khawulani Mkhize, a fellow councillor, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to his part in the murder. His three co-accused, including deputy mayor of uMzinyathi, Mjabulelwa Mkhize, have pleaded not guilty and were denied bail.
July 9, 2012
79-year-old Mpipini Mncube, an NFP member, was found dead with a wound to his head. Two people were arrested in connection with the murder.
July 14, 2012
NFP member Mthunzi Gwala, 32, was shot in the head four times in Umlazi. Brothers Xolani and Muzi Ntuli were arrested and are expected to appear in Umlazi Magistrate’s Court on Friday for a bail application.
July 21, 2012
NFP member Thami Mnyango, 22, was shot twice in the head on his way to a shop. Mandla Dlangisa was arrested for the murder and will also be appearing at the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court for a bail hearing.
July 30, 2012
ANC Hibiscus Coast councillor Wandile Mkhize, 32, was killed in a drive-by shooting near his home in Manaba, Margate. Two men – Dumisani Sikhakhane, 32, and Kwanele Hlongwa, 40 – have been charged with the murder. The men will appear at the Ramsgate Magistrate’s Court on October 11 for a bail application.
August 17, 2012
ANC councillor Jimmy Lembede, 40, was gunned down at his home in Estcourt. - Additional reporting by Sihle Mlambo, Daily News