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Slain eThekwini Municipality worker’s family want answers

The family of Phumzile Qatha, the eThekwini Municipality employee who was shot dead at the municipal depot in Ottawa on Saturday, say only the arrest and prosecution of her killer will give them closure.

Phumzile Qatha was shot dead at an eThekwini Municipality water tanker depot in Ottawa last week. Picture: Supplied.

Published Apr 28, 2022

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DURBAN - THE family of Phumzile Qatha, the eThekwini Municipality employee who was shot dead at the municipal depot in Ottawa on Saturday, say only the arrest and prosecution of her killer will give them closure.

As the family prepares for her burial in Lubhacweni in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape this weekend, there are still questions as to why she was killed.

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Qatha’s aunt, who would not give her name for fear of reprisals, said they were shocked that she had died in such a brutal manner.

Qatha, 36, was in charge of managing disaster relief water tankers and allocating them to different areas under the municipality jurisdiction.

The Mercury reported earlier this week that she was shot several times at close range even after she fell down by a man who after killing her casually got into a car that was parked near the depot.

The aunt said they wanted to know why she had been murdered.

“We just want to know why she was killed in such a brutal manner because we are in the dark and are battling to cope. Only an arrest and prosecution of the person who did this can give us closure,” said the family member.

She added that they were getting support from Qatha’s colleagues, who had been visiting the family since the ordeal.

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Despite the support, she said, they remained puzzled about what prompted her killing.

“We want justice for Phumzile, she was such a good and responsible individual and it would be unfair that her killer is allowed to roam free, because her children no longer have a mother,” the aunt continued.

She indicated that Qatha had three children who were grief-stricken after learning of their mother’s death.

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“She will be buried next to her siblings in the village of Lubhacweni this coming Sunday and we are busy finalising arrangements for her body to be transported to the Eastern Cape,” she said.

One of her friends, Pamella Mallela, took to social media to express her anger regarding the killing.

“Your death cannot be in vain. You served that community and refused to be corruptible. Rest in peace,” she wrote on Facebook.

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Qatha’s death has been widely condemned and has brought into sharp focus the safety of municipal employees.

Some political parties and organised labour have questioned the value added by the municipal security, saying people have easy access to municipal premises, which puts workers at risk.

The murder comes just two months after another municipal employee, Amos Ngcobo, was gunned down in his office in Springfield. A suspect has been charged with his murder.

Earlier in the week, the municipality indicated that it was putting together the details of what had happened during the shooting.

It is not clear whether there will be a memorial service for Qatha, held by either the municipality or labour union, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).

The union’s deputy regional chairperson said nothing had been concluded yet and they would contact the municipality.

“What we can confirm is Qatha was indeed an Imatu member and we are saddened and shocked by her killing.”

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela could not be reached.

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