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Fears of political killings in run-up to local government elections

ANC members outside the home of councillor Nokuthula Bolitye who was shot and killed on Monday in Crossroads. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

ANC members outside the home of councillor Nokuthula Bolitye who was shot and killed on Monday in Crossroads. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jul 14, 2021


Cape Town - Political experts and criminologists have warned that political killings might get worse as we get closer to the local government elections.

This after the killing of ANC councillor Nokuthula Bolitye, 50, who was shot dead outside her home in Crossroads on Monday.

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Bolitye's killing comes a month after Stellenbosch deputy mayor, Nyaniso Jindela, his wife, Unathi, and Kayamandi taxi owner Gladstone Relegu were arrested in connection with the killing of former Stellenbosch deputy mayor Cameron Mcako, 56.

ANC Women’s League Dullah Omar regional co-ordinator Buyiswa Bala, said Bolitye's life had been under threat for some time. She said a year ago, there was an attempt on her life, where she and her son were injured.

"We call on the justice system to prevail in this senseless murder and for these perpetrators to be apprehended as soon as possible,” said Bala.

Mayor Dan Plato said the full circumstances surrounding Bolitye’s death were not yet known. SA Communist Party (SACP) provincial secretary Benson Ngqentsu said many politicians have been living in fear in the Western Cape.

"Some have survived many attempted assassinations."

Amanda Gouws, political science professor at the University of Stellenbosch (SU), said local government elections were very important for patronage networks, because of the rampant corruption at that level.

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Gouws said competition to become candidates was fierce and if someone posed an obstacle he/she was removed with violence, even death.

"Councillors who are clean from corruption are particularly vulnerable, and there should be some vigilance in the run-up to the election," said Gouws.

Political leadership should openly oppose this type of behaviour, especially where there have been previous attempts on someone’s life, she said.

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Premier Alan Winde called on the police to leave no stone unturned in their investigation into Bolitye’s death. "The SAPS must ensure that guilty parties are arrested swiftly to be prosecuted."

Criminologist at SU's political science department, Guy Lamb, said political killings pointed to a worrying dynamic where violence was being used to resolve conflicts within parties and between particular key individuals in a party.

Lamb said political killings had been a feature in KwaZulu-Natal for decades, not only between the ANC and IFP. He said they also started to be seen in factional battles between the ANC, largely in relation to who controlled certain positions in local government.

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"The key issue that drove this was that the easiest way to eliminate a rival was through arranging assassins to get rid of them rather than through a democratic process. Unfortunately, that seems to have taken root in the Western Cape and some places," said Lamb.

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Cape Argus