Durban -The South African Local Government Association (Salga) has revealed that 39 councillors have died in KwaZulu-Natal in the past 10 months – 17 of them were assassinated.
The most recent assassination was that of IFP councillor Innocent Mkhwanazi of the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, who was gunned down on Monday.
Thami Ntuli, chairperson of KZN Salga, said the organisation was appalled by the recent wave of killings.
“Just last week, on Tuesday, the ACDP PR councillor in the City of uMhlathuze Municipality, councillor JF Myaka, was shot while delivering a sermon to his congregants at his church in eNseleni, Richards Bay. Shockingly, less than a week later on Monday, K Mkhwanazi, was also assassinated, while his bodyguards were injured.”
Francois Rodgers, leader of the DA in KZN, said the party would call for Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and her Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, to urgently convene a meeting of all political party leaders in KZN to find solutions to the increase in politically motivated killings.
“The growing climate of violence in KZN is a threat to our democracy, yet the province’s ANC-run government has not taken firm action. Of extreme concern is that attacks and killings of councillors appear to be more prevalent in municipalities with hung councils or those with unstable coalitions. It is now critical that MEC Sithole-Moloi revise her department’s approach to these municipalities.”
Condemning the violence, Blessed Gwala, IFP KZN spokesperson for community safety and liaison, said: “The IFP reiterates its call that the major contributor to the killings is the lack of a comprehensive plan aimed at eradicating crime and illegal guns from all corners of our communities in this province.”
Mafika Mndebele, KZN ANC spokesperson, said the ANC was against political violence and was doing its best to intervene.
“We have called for a multi-party committee to address political killings. We also want to make it clear to political leaders that violence is not the answer to resolve disputes. We are also concerned that municipalities where there is no 51% majority, some parties are holding up council sittings forcefully and that in turn leads to more conflict.”
EFF KZN chairperson Mongezi Twala said political killings were getting out of hand. “We have spoken against political killings in the province. There are no deliberate attempts and efforts to fight crime in KZN generally, we therefore would advocate an idea of having a permanent task team and for parliament to enforce the Moerane Commission findings.”
The Moerane Commission was established by former KZN premier Willies Mchunu in 2018 to probe the ongoing political killings in the province. Advocate Marumo Moerane, who led the commission, made certain recommendations that have not been implemented by the government.
Academic and political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu said: “One of the reasons we see so many political killings is inter-party conflict where we find that members are eliminating others in their own party for power and positions. We also find conflict between opposition parties, and that is leading to violence and killings over positions.
“We also find that criminality in general is out of control and leading to more killings of political leaders. Government and crime intelligence need to play their role to stop political killings, if not we will see a continuation of political violence. We also need to see the findings of the Moerane Commission implemented.”