The senior manager in the eThekwini Municipality who was assassinated on Friday had been under the protection of the Durban Metro Police for almost a year because of the threats that have been made to his life.
Acting senior manager for Plants and Logistics in the Water and Sanitation Unit, Emmanuel Ntuli, was shot at his home in Mandeni.
Acting head of the Metro Police Sbonelo Mchunu said Ntuli had been under protection for almost a year as they had received intelligence that his life was under threat.
The threats received were related to his job.
“On the day of the attack, he was going home (outside of the city) and because of that (he felt safe and) told his protectors that they could stand down.”
“The Mercury” has been informed that this murder was gruesome. Three different sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said violence, threats and intimidation have plagued the unit.
The latest killing has left staff members on edge. One official called on the Durban community to pray for them while another pleaded for the provincial and national government to intervene.
The first official said: “We do not know what is going on now, maybe it's time for the provincial or national government to get involved, conduct a thorough investigation and for the police to bring their very best.
The workers are very fearful, they were already on edge because of previous incidents but this just made things worse.”
A second official said: “Seven people have been killed in the unit in the past few months;pray for us.”
‘’The Mercury’’ had reported on at least three of these murders in the unit.
Last year, Nkosinathi Amos Ngcobo, a superintendent at the unit, was shot dead in his office at the municipal premises in Springfield.
Shortly after Phumzile Qatha was shot dead at the municipal depot in Ottawa.
In September, a man believed to be in his 50s and an employee at the unit was shot dead in a state vehicle.
The second official added: “We thought this was over, thinking that all the people who were at war inside the department had resolved their issues or had left the unit and now something like this happens.
“Ntuli had bodyguards, and he was the peacemaker in the unit, he was the type of person who would try to make people sit down and resolve any disputes, so I don’t know about the threats but he had bodyguards.”
A third source recalled one incident where “they” encountered Ntuli and his protectors.
“He was in the car, squeezed between his protectors in the back seat, when we remarked how tightly he was squeezed in-between them, they said they have to stay ‘tight on him because things are very bad’,” said the source.
The source added that the workers were living in fear. “If you work at the Springfield depot, that is no place to work, people just show up and an attack happens. Staff there are always ready to duck for cover, this site is no place to work.”
A fourth source said criminal activity in the unit was full blown and that was behind the attacks.
“The people there are fighting over overtime, contracts and the widespread theft of diesel.”
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said it was clear that there was a strong “mafia” operating in the water unit.
“There has to be an investigation looking at who is responsible for the killing of staff members in that unit who are committed to their jobs and committed to doing the right thing.”
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said: “The IFP has suggested a special investigation that will deal with this as it is clear something is amiss ...”