Drop in political killings in KwaZulu-Natal says Police Minister Bheki Cele

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala addressed the media yesterday on political killings in the province. Picture: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency(ANA)

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala addressed the media yesterday on political killings in the province. Picture: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 3, 2022


DURBAN - Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed that the police task team that was formed to investigate killings in the province has made good progress in reducing politically related murders.

The minister was briefing the media in Durban on Wednesday on the progress of the unit since it was established in 2018.

Cele chairs the inter-ministerial committee formed by President Cyril Ramaphosa following a spate of political killings, which were prevalent in the build-up to the 2016 local government elections in the province and beyond.

Cele said that when the 2016 local government elections neared, 29 politically related killings were recorded in the province. The murders prompted Ramaphosa to intervene by appointing the inter-ministerial committee, adding that towards last year’s elections only nine killings occurred.

He said the numbers showed that the unit was doing its work.

“Although we would love to reach zero killings in the province, it would be wrong to say the unit was failing to deal with the politically-related murders,” said Cele.

He supported his praises for the unit by revealing that since 2018 it has made 289 arrests which emanated from 258 dockets that were opened.

He added that the unit has achieved a 54% detection rate and a 33% court rate as well as an 83% conviction rate.

The minister said the most affected parties by the killings were the ANC, IFP and NFP and called on the parties to also help fight these killings by dealing with their internal political differences, saying the motives for these killings were linked to intra-political conflicts.

He further said the unit has secured life sentences for 10 accused, and 22 accused were serving sentences ranging from 10 to 50 years, adding that only 12 received sentences of less than 10 years while the rest were still attending cases.

“Out of the 289 suspects arrested, 72 remain in custody, while 43 are out on bail and 13 of these accused have since died. Charges have been withdrawn against 71 accused and 31 have been found not guilty.”

The minister also revealed that among the accused sentenced to life imprisonment was Fisokuhle Nkani Ntuli, who was found guilty on six counts of murder and sentenced to six life imprisonment terms one of which was for the killing of the late ANC councillor Thami Nyembe.

Another one was Nkosinathi Mantengu, who was found guilty on three counts of murder which included the killing of an IFP member and taxi owner Philangenkosi Nkundlane.

He also announced that the murder trial of ANC ward councillor Musawenkosi “Qashana” Mchunu will resume again this week at the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court where five accused will stand trial for his murder. Mchunu was gunned down in May 2018 outside his home in Pietermaritzburg.

Another prominent case was that of Sindiso Magaqa.

The trial was scheduled to get under way in July this year after many postponements.

The minister said investigators were closing in on the killers of eThekwini ANC councillor Minenhle Mkhize and the IFP’s Amajuba District Municipality speaker Reginald Nzima, who were both killed recently.

The briefing was also attended by Premier Sihle Zikalala, who said that the provincial government had already started implementing the Moerane Commission recommendations, adding that as recommended in the report the province had taken away tenders of more than R5 million from municipalities and they were now finalised by the provincial treasurer.

The commission found tenders were among the motives for the killing of politicians in the province.

Others who attended were Police Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale, State Security Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa, and Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni.

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