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‘There are clear signs that something is hugely wrong in KZN’ says ISS senior researcher

The Mthembu family at their home in Folweni where six young people were shot and killed. Pictured, from left, Cebisile Ngcobo (aunt), Thandazile Mthembu, Angeline Msomi and Thabani Ncanane. I Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

The Mthembu family at their home in Folweni where six young people were shot and killed. Pictured, from left, Cebisile Ngcobo (aunt), Thandazile Mthembu, Angeline Msomi and Thabani Ncanane. I Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 16, 2021

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DURBAN - A SENIOR researcher in the Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said KwaZulu-Natal was battling to return to normality following the July unrest.

Dr Johan Burger was referring to the murders, particularly the mass killings that have been carried out since August.

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“There are clear signs that something is hugely wrong in KZN, but we do not have information on what it is. We hope that the SA Human Rights Commission’s report on the July unrest will be able to give us a clear picture,” he said.

Burger added a lack of resources also hindered the police from performing their duties.

KwaZulu-Natal’s mass killings. Graphic: Thobeka Ngema

“Looking at what KZN provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said during the SAHRC’s hearings, police have inadequate resources, and that also posed a problem to them during the unrest.”

He said the country was fast returning to high levels of murders, which were very low during last year’s hard lockdown.

“Killing is a problem in KZN. It looks like KZN and the Western Cape are competing for the number-one spot.”

Further, he said the problems playing out at the police’s national headquarters had an impact in the fight against crime.

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On Monday, six people were shot and killed in Folweni; a sole survivor is in hospital according to the police.

A 16-year-old girl was among the six killed.

Sanelisiwe Ngcobo, 16, was among the six killed in Folweni.

Sanelisiwe Ngcobo, was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head.

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Her uncle, Sipho Ngcobo, said the family was beyond disbelief after what they discovered at the crime scene.

Ngcobo said the shooting happened on Sunday night, but the police arrived during the early hours of Monday morning.

“The family is just utterly devastated. We tried to help Sanelisiwe get through what she was going through, but unfortunately, everyone chooses their path, and she chose one where she was not to be controlled. However, she remained our child,” said Ngcobo.

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Sipho Mthembu, 32, was killed in Folweni, when his shack was attacked.

Sipho Mthembu, 32, the owner of the shack where the murders occurred, also died.

His mother, Thandazile Mthembu, said that night she heard men jump over her fence and was immediately alarmed.

“When I opened the door, they were staring down my son’s shack and carrying guns. One of them saw me and pointed the gun straight at me and shot my door. Fortunately, I was already away from the door. What followed was a string of bullets. I could not believe it. It was something I had never heard before.

“Immediately, I took my grandchildren and hid under the beds to make sure that even if the bullets ricocheted, it would not hurt them,” said Mthembu. She could not bring herself to go outside to check what happened until she heard her son’s last words.

“My son shouted for my help until his very last breath. He said ’Mom call the police for help’. The police were eventually fetched by a neighbour to come in the morning, hours after the shooting,” said Mthembu.

Nkosing’phile Maphumulo, 36, was killed in Folweni.

Nkosing’phile Maphumulo, 36, was the oldest among the victims. His uncle, Sipho Maphumulo, said they were notified by neighbours about an incident that happened 10 minutes from their home involving their nephew.

“His maternal uncle and I immediately went to the scene to identify him when the police were done with the forensics. We were able to ascertain that it was him, and nothing could have prepared us for the horror we saw in that shack,” said Maphumulo.

A community member, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised, said: “We are not safe, and it is not just the shootings but the ringing of guns is a noise we are used to in the area.”

She added one woman who survived was pronounced dead on her way to the hospital, and that there was also one unidentified body of a man who was said to be from Luganda, outside of Pinetown. The police confirmed that six people died at the scene.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the sole survivor was still in the hospital.

“We can confirm a total of 29 packets of dagga were found inside the house,” he said.

In October, nine people were shot dead in Clare Estate at the Palmiet Road informal settlement.

In September, five people were shot dead and three were injured in Umlazi W-section, at what was supposed to be a welcome back party for ex-convict Minenhle Mhlengi Shinga.

The victims were found with gunshot wounds to their heads. Bongani Thabethe, Minenhle Mhlengi Shinga, Mkhulu Boy Terrence Ngcobo and three victims known as Melokuhle, Brazil and Mkhulu Boy, as well as an unidentified man, were killed.

Mnelisi Mbhele, 14, was among the six people killed at Zamani informal settlement, in uMlazi U-Section in August.

In August, six people were shot and killed at Zamani informal settlement in Umlazi’s U-section including a 14-year-old boy.

Mnelisi Mbhele, a Grade 9 pupil at Igagasi High School, was shot and killed in the crossfire.

Likhona Khumalo, Noxolo Mzimela (from Sydenham and was visiting her boyfriend), Mphathiseni Manyoni, Lindokuhle Khomo, and an unidentified woman who had visited her boyfriend, were also killed.

Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said no arrests had been made in the mass killings, but investigations were still ongoing.

“All the cases are investigated by the Provincial Organised Crime Unit,” Themba said.

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