Municipal workers said machine gun-wielding inter-ministerial task team members arrived in unmarked cars and stormed the building between 8am and 9am, blocking both entrances to the yard and to the building.
“I was already inside the building and had done signing-in for the day. As I stepped outside, leaving for my department at the other side of town, I just froze when I came face to face with machine gun nozzles trained on me. I was instructed to go back inside, and that was the beginning of the ordeal,” said an employee who declined to be named.
“I don’t know how many they were, but they were everywhere - inside the building and all over the yard. It was scary. No one was allowed to leave, and no one was allowed to get in from the morning until around noon.”
Another employee said the raid was linked to the murder of Zakhele Mazibuko, a municipal employee and IFP leader in the uThukela district.
“There were men with machine guns in all the corridors. We were confined to our offices, and nothing moved. Services were disrupted. It was not a space you would want to be in at that time. Going to the bathroom or to the kitchen - as we usually do - was not something you would want to do at that time. Imagine having to walk along the corridor past grumpy-faced men with big guns. Nothing could have prepared us for that episode,” said the employee.
Mazibuko, 44, from Blue Bank, near Ladysmith, was shot and killed in an ambush on September15 between Estcourt and Colenso, shortly after leaving an IFP uThukela District meeting.
He was the party’s publicity secretary in the district.
At the time of his death, he was the occupational and health manager at the municipality.
The Daily News reported at the time that his murder came just two days after Police Minister Bheki Cele’s announcement of progress made by the inter-ministerial task team set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June to investigate political killings in the province.
Mbuzeleni Mkhize, the IFP’s uThukela district chairperson, said he had heard about the raid and that a municipal employee, who was also an IFP member, had been taken in by the team. “We have not been officially contacted by the investigators, but we heard rumours that this raid was linked to the murder of comrade Mazibuko. We heard about the absence of two other senior employees who are believed to be linked to the murder. At this stage we cannot say much until we officially get detailed information from the investigators,” Mkhize said.
It was rumoured that two other municipal officials were also taken in for questioning, but this could not be confirmed.
Minister Cele’s office and the municipality were contacted for comment, but neither had responded by the time of publication.