Durban - A Cato Crest man who led protests in the area this week over the allocation of RDP houses was shot 12 times - just hours after a high level ANC delegation met with angry community members.
Nkululeko Gwala, 34, had told the Daily News during the week and two hours before he died, that he was afraid he would be killed. He was shot by two men as he made his way home at about 10.30pm.
This is the second killing related to the allocation of RDP houses in the area since violence first flared up in March. Thembinkosi Qumbelo, the leader of the Cato Crest Residential Association, was gunned down on March 15 by four gunmen. No arrests have been made.
The latest killing came just hours after eThekwini mayor, James Nxumalo and Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo - who is also chairman of ANC in the city - met community members at the Cato Crest Community Hall to discuss rising tension in the area during which two local councillors’ offices were torched.
Speaking to the Daily News before his death, Gwala said he did not want to attend the meeting because he feared he might be killed.
He said the main reason he had led the protests this week was that councillors were giving low cost houses to politically connected people.
“People should get houses because of merit and not politcal affiliations,” he said.
“If they say I am guilty of leading the protest then that is fine because I am doing it for the rights of people.”
He was dead two hours later.
Long-standing tension over the allocation of RDP houses intensified this week after land invaders, evicted from their shacks, blockaded part of King Cetshwayo (Jan Smuts) Highway on Monday morning.
This morning, his girlfriend, Thembi Mazubane, 42, said he was ambushed by two men who were later seen running away from the scene.
“After Qumbelo’s death, two women jokingly said I must buy black panties and bras in preparation for mourning. I believe that those who shot him also murdered Qumbelo. He (Gwala) had been receiving death threats since the protests started,” she said.
Addressing community members on Wednesday night, Dhlomo slammed police for not stopping the mob that went on the rampage in the area. He said police did nothing to stop the violence or arrest offenders.
The offices of ward councillors Zanele Ndzoyiya and Mzimuni Mnguni were torched on Tuesday night and Vusi Mzimela (Bellair) Road and King Cetshwayo Highway had been blocked with rubble and burning tyres.
“I am going to have an urgent meeting with (MEC for Community Safety and Liaison) Willies Mchunu to vent our unhappiness on how police conducted themselves during the protests.
“We hear that police accompanied the hooligans while they were destroying properties. We urge the community not to rely on police, but be protective of this area and its infrastructure,” said Dhlomo, who was addressing Cato Crest residents at a special meeting on Wednesday.
He appealed to the community not to allow hooligans to stand in the way of development. “Otherwise, the budget set for building homes in the area will be taken elsewhere,” he said.
Nxumalo was among the speakers at the meeting, which was attended by thousands of residents. He also criticised the police, calling them incompetent.
Nxumalo referenced Gwala - who had been mentioned by several residents - in his address to residents, telling them that he knew him from their home town, Inchanga, and that he had come from a “good home”.
Nxumalo appealed to people to be patient as the shortage of land hindered development. However, he said there were other housing projects, such as Cornubia, where they could be housed.
Mnguni said it was disappointing to see infrastructure being destroyed and development halted because of a few unruly people.
Police confirmed Gwala’s death and said they were investigating.