South Africa - Durban 03-08-2018 Minister of Police Bheki Cele addressing media on the progress of KZN Political Killings at Durban Police head quarters. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Concerned KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas has expressed optimism that Police Minister Bheki Cele will bring political killings in the province to an end using his newly appointed team of crime experts.

De Haas was responding to Cele’s claim during a press briefing in Durban at the weekend that the team comprising 16 “experienced and seasoned prosecutors” and senior police officers from various provinces had started to make inroads in political killings by arresting six suspects.

However, Cele has declined to say which cases were linked to the arrests.

De Haas said that although she appreciated Cele’s efforts, the efficacy of the arrests would ­depend on convictions.

“It is a good thing that we got police from all over the country to handle the investigations, but it is too early to say whether or not this is going to be the solution.

“The new team of detectives and experienced prosecutors looks promising,” said De Haas.

Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, said the details of the arrests could not be ­revealed because the cases were connected to other cases that were under investigation.

De Haas agreed that it would be risky for the cases to be revealed “because that might jeopardise other related cases”.

Cele had told the media that the new team comprises 126 members led by provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. “The National Prosecuting Authority has also dedicated 16 experienced and seasoned prosecutors, led by Advocate (Cyril) Selepe (the KwaZulu-Natal deputy director of public prosecutions) to support the investigating team to ensure effective case management and successful prosecutions.

“The human resources include seasoned and experienced detectives from various provinces, including Kwa­Zulu-Natal, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

“We are satisfied with the work that this team has been doing thus far.

“Two weeks ago they arrested six people in connection with the political killings. Two firearms were recovered and have already been linked to at least eight cases,” said Cele.

Ambushed

Among a number of political killings-related cases where there have been no arrests is that of former ANCYL secretary-general and municipal councillor Sindiswa Magaqa, who died after being ambushed in Umzimkhulu in July last year.

De Haas said the appointment of Mkhwanazi to lead the investigation might bear fruit as he had a good reputation.

She said that previously there had been no political will to solve political murder cases.

“It is also so difficult to collect information as some people (witnesses) are too scared to talk.

She said even the Department of Health could be blamed for failing to properly handle its forensic services, which was essential to help the police solve murder cases.