File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

OPINION: Hitmen for hire in KZN

By KAILENE PILLAY Time of article published Feb 11, 2020

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FEATURE: Is hiring a hit man in KwaZulu-Natal as easy as ordering a meal online?

KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas believes it as easy as that, considering the increasing number of murders and attacks conducted hit-style in recent months.

The latest murders of people linked to the taxi industry has opened up a debate on how easy it is to hire hit men in KZN.

De Haas said it had been known for years that hit men were used for many murders, including for political hits and by people who wanted a business partner or spouse killed.

“So it seems pretty easy for anyone who wants someone killed to find a hit man who is armed in this province,” she said.

During her many probes in the hiring of hit men, she found the taxi industry was known to harbour hit men. “So, the questions I have been asking for years are: why is it so easy for ordinary people to find hit men who have access to guns if they want someone killed?

“Yet the police either don’t know about it; and why, when it is known that the taxi industry is linked to hitmen are there not more government controls, including the policing of taxi operations and ranks and checks on whether security guards are registered with PSIRA and whether the companies are even registered themselves?” De Haas asked.

Her only conclusion was there was no political will to deal with the taxi mafia networks. She said it was also known that some police members and politicians had taxi interests. “As I said, there seems to be a complete lack of political will to deal with all of this. Don’t forget there were huge stockpiles of weapons in this province from the 1990s which have never been accounted for,” she said.

In a recent episode of Carte Blanche, Police Minister Bheki Cele reiterated his call for a gun-free South Africa. He said he wanted guns out of the hands of South Africans.

The director for Safety and Violence Initiative at University of Cape Town, Dr Guy Lamb, said more than 140000 firearms were lost or stolen between 1999 and 2015.

Statistics showed that most crimes in South Africa were committed by handguns taken from citizens or police. Lamb also shone the light on a syndicate allegedly operating within the police that stole 2400 confiscated weapons earmarked for destruction. He said the weapons were sold between 2007 and 2015 and ended in the hands of gangs on the Cape Flats and Nelson Mandela metropolitan area.

“Those same firearms were linked to 1066 murders,” Lamb said. 

The Mercury

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