2 dead as bullets fly at SACP meeting

25/01/2016. Some ANC members from Hammanskraal, ward 49, set alight a T-shirt with Zuma face outside the party Tshwane regional office in a protest against alleged branch vote-rigging. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

25/01/2016. Some ANC members from Hammanskraal, ward 49, set alight a T-shirt with Zuma face outside the party Tshwane regional office in a protest against alleged branch vote-rigging. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Published Jan 26, 2016

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Durban - Fiercely contested nominations for the local government elections may have led to the deaths of two people in KwaZulu-Natal.

The two people were killed on Sunday night at a South African Community Party (SACP) meeting in Inchanga outside Durban.

Pensioner Philip Dlamini, 68, and an unknown man were fatally shot at a soccer field where the SACP had held a meeting.

It is believed that the unidentified man was killed by people who were attending the meeting after they suspected him of being a hit man.

Read: Inchanga shootings raise suspicions

Inchanga is the home village of eThekwini mayor and provincial SACP chairman, James Nxumalo, who was at home when he heard “about 50” gunshots from the nearby soccer field where his SACP supporters held the meeting.

KZN police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane said two murder cases had been opened and three men were taken in for questioning, although no one had been charged.

The ANC is already facing problems in some areas where contestations for positions of councillors have resulted in violence.

And on Monday, a T-shirt bearing the face of President Jacob Zuma was burnt in front of the ANC’s Tshwane regional headquarters in Arcadia as internal unrest that has hit the party continued.

Dressed in the party’s regalia, ANC members from Hammanskraal outside Pretoria chanted, danced and hurled obscenities at their leaders. Their protest followed yet another branch meeting which the members claimed took place behind their backs.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe sought to downplay the problems, saying it was to be expected with all local government elections.

“Selection of candidates is always a tense process, it is not something new that we are beginning to see. Actually it is not as intense as in the last elections, we are paying attention to those areas but the reality is that selection of candidates for council is always a life and death issue,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of the ANC national executive committee lekgotla at St George’s Hotel in Pretoria.

Read: ANC tight-lipped about Inchanga killings

In Inchanga, Durban, it is believed that the violence was a culmination of the disputed provincial and regional leadership. The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal broke into two camps after Sihle Zikalala was elected party provincial secretary at the provincial conference.

Late last year, councillor Zandile Gumede defeated Nxumalo in the race for eThekwini regional chairperson. Mchunu and Nxumalo supporters refused to support the new leadership.

Nxumalo’s ANC adversaries had held a separate meeting at a nearby local community hall, where they were nominating ANC candidates for the local government elections. He said he had planned to attend the SACP meeting, but he was delayed as he had visitors at home.

“As I was about to leave my home (for the meeting), I heard gunshots, about 50 of them coming from the soccer field. I phoned the local police station, and immediately I phoned provincial commissioner (Lieutenant-General) Mamunye Ngobeni asking her to deploy police,” he said.

People who were at the SACP meeting said they witnessed “an action movie”, except they were the targets. They said trouble started while community members were questioning four men who were not from the area about their presence at the meeting. The men had arrived in a silver-grey Mercedes-Benz, but remained in the car while the meeting was in progress.

“We went to demand that they explain their presence, but we soon spotted rifles on the back seat. We opened the doors to pull them out but three of them broke out and ran away, leaving the driver trying unsuccessfully to start the car to drive off,” said one resident.

The driver was later found dead a short distance from his car. As the crowd was chasing after the three men, Christopher Radebe said he saw about four vehicles speeding towards the soccer field with occupants shooting in the direction of the crowd at the field.

“We all ran away. Dlamini was running with me, but he fell,” said Radebe.

One man said he saw Dlamini falling after being hit by a bullet. “I saw a man jumping from one of the cars and went straight to finish Dlamini off,” said the man, adding that several vehicles were also damaged by bullets.

It is understood that the meeting had discussed the ANC’s decision to sideline Nxumalo’s supporters from the nomination at the hall.

“We then took a decision to nominate our own candidate to stand for elections. But the attack happened before we started nomination,” said an SACP supporter.

However, Nxumalo denied that the SACP meeting was meant to nominate election candidates.

“That was a SACP meeting to discuss various issues. The communist party cannot nominate and there was no way it could to that.”

Nxumalo said he had accepted his recent defeat by Zandile Gumede for the position of eThekwini regional chairman, which had split the party in the region.

He said the provincial leadership had suggested a joint public meeting between him and Gumede to bring peace in the region.

“If there are factions, I think it would be a good thing that we hold the meetings, and tell people to calm down and wait for ANC processes to deal with disputes.”

The Ward 4 councillor in Inchanga, Mzwamasoka Shozi, said the shooting had nothing to do with the ANC nomination meeting.

“We can only wait for the outcome of the investigation because we don’t know what led to the shooting, which happened after we had finished nominating our candidates,” he said.

The ANC in the eThekwini region condemned the attack.

“We cannot speculate, but we are calling upon our members and alliance partners to be vigilant,” said regional spokesman Bheki Ntuli.

On Thursday, another Inchanga resident, Bongani Dladla, was killed outside his home. He had been expected to be nominated to stand for the ANC in the area. - Additional reporting by Mogomotsi Magome

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