Durban – Angry community members had threatened to burn down the house of Umlazi councillor S’bu Maphumulo on the day that he was gunned down, the African National Congress (ANC) said on Friday.
Maphumulo, Umlazi’s Ward 88 councillor, was shot multiple times on Thursday night while parked in a stationary vehicle outside his home, police told the African News Agency (ANA) on Friday morning.
One of the South African Police Services spokespersons in KwaZulu-Natal, colonel Thembeka Mbhele, said that Maphumulo was gunned down inside his car.
“Last night at 21:45, a 32-year-old man was coming from the meeting at V section, Umlazi, in his vehicle, a Golf 6, stationary on the road when another Golf 6 stopped next to his vehicle,” said Mbhele.
“The suspects fired shots at him and he sustained gunshot wounds to the head. The suspects fled the scene in their getaway vehicle. The motive is still unknown. A case of murder was opened for investigation at Umlazi SAPS [SA Police Service],” she said.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, told ANA that there were allegations that a group of community members had threatened to “burn down his house” on Thursday morning because they had not received housing.
Whether this was linked to the killing would have to be investigated by police, she said, cautioning against speculation.
Simelane-Zulu said Maphumulo was elected during the 2016 local government elections and was a long-term member of the ANC, also serving in the regional ANC youth league as a leader.
eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, said she would be leading a delegation of councillors and officials to visit the family on Friday morning.
Maphumulo made local headlines last year when shack-dweller group Abahlali baseMjondolo accused him of intimidating one of its Silver City, uMlazi, branch leaders at a community meeting.
The group claimed Maphumulo stormed the meeting with police officers and “hitmen”.
Speaking to ANA on Friday after the news of Maphumulo’s murder, Abahlali president S’bu Zikode said: “He was one of the councillors that intimidated Abahlali leaders in our Silver City branch in Umlazi.
"We had opened an intimidation case against him and the police would not arrest him. He would come into Abahlali meetings with his armed men and intimidate and disturb our meetings. May his soul rest in peace.
"Having said that, I do want to say, our condolences to Maphumulo's family and children. No human being deserves this kind of brutality. That is why we came out in our thousands last week to say killing of people must come to an end. May his soul rest in peace."
At a press briefing last month, police minister Bheki Cele said SAPS was dealing with 137 cases linked to political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
The arrests skyrocketed after Cele significantly beefed up the political killings’ task team, which included bringing in seasoned officers from outside the province and fostering closer ties with the National Prosecuting Authority.
African News Agency/ANA