'Servant leader' IFP branch chairperson murdered in KZN
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DURBAN - An IFP branch chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal was gunned down in front of his family on Sunday.
Bheki Malembe was the branch chairperson for ward 29 in Ndabayakhe, which forms part of the uMhlathuze constituency in King Cetshwayo District (Richards Bay area), the party said on Monday.
The IFP's deputy chief whip and uMhlathuze constituency chairperson, Xolani Ngwezi, said Malembe "was gunned down [on Sunday] in the presence of his wife and two young children".
"The IFP extends our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and loved ones on the passing of Comrade Bheki Malembe...who served as the chairperson of the IFP branch in Ward 29. He was a servant leader, an honourable family man, a dedicated community-builder, and a respected comrade in the IFP."
Ngwezi said Malembe's death "was met with deep sadness, regret and shock".
"We call on all law enforcement authorities to act swiftly in their investigation and in their tireless pursuit of justice for the community, his wife and children, as well as to send a clear message that political killings have no place in our country."
The IFP called on those who may have any information to come forward and to assist the police in their investigation.
"We must work together to root out criminality and evil in our communities. We extend our prayers to the families and the entire uMhlathuze community and King Cetshwayo District at large, as just recently a number of comrades have been laid to rest, following similar sudden, tragic and senseless killings.
"We hope that the families may find closure in knowing that those responsible for the deaths of our comrades will be brought to book. May comrade Malembe's soul forever rest in perfect peace, Lala Ngoxolo."
KwaZulu-Natal has experienced such a high number of political killings over the past decade – particularly of ANC councillors in the run up to local government elections - that former premier Willies Mchunu was prompted to launch a commission of inquiry into the murders.
The Moerane commission found that many of the murders were committed as a result of candidates jostling for election or re-election, particularly so they could gain access to lucrative state tenders.
Last week, ANC eThekwini ward 84 councillor Bhekithemba Phungula, was gunned down near his uMlazi home.
Last month, an ANC councillor at the Mtubatuba local municipality was shot dead. Philip Mkhwanazi was shot multiple times, allegedly by two unknown assailants.
On the same day, eThekwini's ANCYL branch secretary for ward 91, Thamsanqa Gcabashe was shot dead in the Hammarsdale area.
Also in May, former IFP Mtubatuba councillor Thengezakhe Maphanga was gunned down. He is alleged to have been shot over 20 times.