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Kwamashu ward election to go ahead

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Durban - The by-election in Durban's troubled Ward 39 will go ahead despite recent incidents of violence in KwaMashu, provincial electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said on Monday.

He said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had looked at various reports on the ward, which includes the men's hostels and shacks in A-section, KwaMashu.

He said he was “fairly confident to say that there is no doubt about the conducive climate [to hold elections].”

However, asked whether political parties had been free to campaign for Wednesday's by-election, he said: “I've avoided to say the election is free in Ward 39.”

No incidents have been reported since last Sunday, when the motorcade of National Freedom Party leader Zanele KaMagwaza Msibi was stoned and a journalist's car was torched by Inkatha Freedom Party leaders.

KwaZulu-Natal safety and security MEC Willies Mchunu said on Monday that his department was receiving daily reports from the area.

There had been campaigning by the IFP, the NFP and the African National Congress in the troubled ward.

The ward seat became vacant at the beginning of October after IFP councillor Themba Xulu was abducted by five men posing as police. His decomposing, bullet-riddled body was later found in a field in Inanda.

Trouble has been brewing in A-section ever since Xulu was arrested earlier this year for allegedly trying to burn down NFP leader Bhungu Gwala's house.

This was followed by the shooting in September of Gwala's 21-year-old son.

The day after Xulu was abducted Cebisile Shezi, a 32-year-old IFP supporter, was shot dead outside the Thembalihle railway station in KwaMashu.

The murder took place shortly after Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa addressed IFP supporters in an attempt to restore peace to the area.

Xulu's body was found the next day.

On October 12, Gwala, his two sons and a bodyguard were arrested for Shezi's murder.

At their first appearance at the Ntuzuma Magistrate's Court a few days later, IFP supporter Siya Dlamini was shot dead outside the court, in full view of journalists and the police. NFP councillor Mzonjani Zulu was arrested for the murder.

On November 19, IFP supporters allegedly stoned NFP hostels following the release on bail of one of Gwala's sons.

Later that night, IFP KwaMashu hostel block leader and a member of the branch executive committee, Sihle Biyela, 34, was shot dead.

Other by-elections to be held in KwaZulu-Natal include Durban's Ward 72, where Chatsworth ANC councillor Mthandeni Shezi was killed.

Ward Two, in Hlabisa, is being contested following the resignation of the NFP councillor, and a by-election will also be held in Ward Four, in Nkandla, following the death of the ANC incumbent.

Mosery said polling stations in Wards 39 and 72 would close at 7pm because of security concerns.

Once voting had closed, the IEC still had the power to call off an election before the results were announced, he said.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Betty Mmamonnye Ngobeni said additional resources had been deployed in Ward 39, including 133 members of the Public Order Policing Unit.

Sapa


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