DURBAN - THE KwaZulu-Natal political killings task team has leads in the Inanda drive-by shooting that killed three women who were attending an ANC meeting to vote on ward councillor candidates, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.
He visited the Dlamini, Shange and Jili families in the township on Tuesday.
According to police, Ncami Shange, 34, Philisiwe Jili, 37, and 75-year-old Beatrice Dlamini had been with a group of people at the front gate of Buhlebethu Primary School when the occupants of a black Opel Corsa bakkie opened fire.
Cele was accompanied by his deputy minister, Cassel Mathale, as well as State Security Deputy Minister Zizi Kodwa.
He said the murders were on the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster’s (JCPS) agenda along with provincial SAPS top brass preparations for the elections.
“It’s not just here in KZN, there are a lot of problems in Gauteng and last Friday we had some problems in the Western Cape in Gugulethu. It’s an issue that is very linked to elections. There also should be an understanding that crime is high here (Inanda) so it could be a combination of criminals finding a new space in the political space.”
He said it appeared the incident in Inanda was not directed at specific people, but was one of intimidation.
“It’s intimidation of people so they don’t get into the gear of elections and voting. We as police will have to work with the community in order for the situation to allow people to do what they must, feeling safe with law enforcement present.
“We hope we will be able to sort this out to prevent this from happening again. The team tasked with investigating political killings is handling this particular case as the incident happened during a political event.”
Cele said the team has indicated there were possible leads that could not be divulged at this stage.
“Our duty is to ask the task team to move with speed so that like-minded perpetrators would be deterred.”
Kodwa assured residents that the elections would be safe.
“If there are elements that continue to intimidate, they will be dealt with by law enforcement. It’s the responsibility of the JCPS to ensure such intimidation does not stand in the way of the Constitution. We must protect the Constitution and our democracy,” he said.
Fear was the general feeling among the families of the three women and in the area.
“God will make a way and the spirits of those who died will also see that those who did this are caught,” said Ncami Shange’s aunt, Zandile Shabangu.
“Even though an arrest will not bring her back, we have hope that they will be arrested. We are torn as a family that while voting for a better life, people are killed, and it was only women. We are also scared now to go and vote. She was my child, my friend we spoke about everything,”.
Jili’s boyfriend of two years, Simnikiwe Makhanda, blamed the ANC for her death.
“People are placed at risk while others have bodyguards and police. But when people go to vote for you they are unsafe, they are made into a sacrifice. These lives were lost because of the ANC. Why was there voting without any police present?”
Cele also provided an update into the investigation on the recent killings in uMlazi. Last month, 11 people were gunned down in two separate shootings in the township’s U and W section in five days.
“We are looking for somebody. There are teams specifically dedicated to working 24 hours and we have a specific name. In the second scene, we have people of interest because we now know that one of the people killed was a witness in a certain scene.”
Also on Tuesday, religious leaders, members of civil society along with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive, led by Premier Sihle Zikalala, walked the streets of Phoenix and the neighbouring township of Bhambayi in aid of peace between the two fractured communities following the riots and looting in July.
A total of 300 people lost their lives across KZN and Gauteng, but Phoenix was the scene of some of the worst violence, with 36 people killed.
Speaking in Bhambayi, Zikalala said: “The clear message is that the peace-loving people in these communities stand firmly against violence, killing, looting, racial profiling or any other negative attitude that risks dividing people.”
He said they had come to Phoenix as a statement of their commitment to peace and social cohesion.
Zikalala said that while law-abiding citizens correctly came forward to protect their stores and amenities, criminal elements had exploited the situation to kill and maim.
“That criminal intent had a racial bent and we must say with one voice – African and Indian, young and old, Christian, Muslim and Hindu – that we condemn that without any reservation,” he said.
Zikalala said those charged with the killings must be dealt with appropriately and sternly by the criminal justice system. | Additional reporting by Lee Rondganger