National Freedom Party leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Months of political in-fighting in the National Freedom Party has emerged as a prime motive for the brutal killing of two of the party’s leaders in Msinga outside Greytown on Tuesday night.

Minutes after leaving a meeting just after 5pm, Bongani Shelembe, the party’s Msinga chairman, and Lungisile Zuma, its youth league secretary, were gunned down and killed with high-calibre weapons.

Shelembe’s personal assistant Thulephi Mbatha, who was wounded in the ambush, was in a serious condition in the Church of Scotland Hospital in Msinga on Wednesday.

Insiders told The Mercury that the party’s provincial leaders had, for months, tried to quell hostilities between councillors and officials in that area.

At least three meetings had been called in a bid to resolve differences but without any luck. The Mercury understands that some of the councillors had also been called to disciplinary hearings.

Wednesday’s claims say the attack could have been an inside job were backed up by Zakhele Ngcobo, the chairman of the NFP’s Mzinyathi district.

He confirmed that there was a power struggle between the party’s councillors at the Msinga municipality and party leaders at a local level.

“The relationship between the local councillors and local party leaders has never been good,” said Ngcobo.

He said Tuesday’s meeting, which was called by Shelembe and Zuma, had been meant to discuss boosting party membership in the area.

“This was definitely politically motivated,” said Ngcobo.

He said Shelembe had been driving when they were attacked on the R53 main road. They were on the way to his shop in Keate’s Drift.

Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said the police had not established the motive for the attack.

He said a special team of detectives had been assembled to probe the matter.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu has condemned the attack. “This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated,” said Mchunu.

The Mercury understands there is also tension in the NFP’s eDumbe branch in the Paulpietersburg area. - The Mercury