Durban - With fears that political killings may be on the rise, some ANC councillor candidates in KwaZulu-Natal have resorted to hiding while others have reported death threats to their respective parties.
Ahead of the local government elections, KZN has been the centre of focus of political killings following the 2018 Moerane Commission which found that the scourge of political violence was far from over.
The commission in its recommendation had warned that since local government elections were always hotly contested at ward level, this raised the risk of political killings.
The commission identified eThekwini, Pietermaritzburg, Harry Gwala district and Newcastle as epicentres of the killings carried out by contracted hitmen who often don't get prosecuted.
Last Friday, the ANC lost its candidate in Cato Manor when Siyabonga Mkhize was shot dead by unknown people.
On Sunday, the EFF lost its candidate in (Msunduzi municipality), Pietermaritzburg, when Thulani Shangase was killed.
Early last month, during the ANC’s community nomination process, unknown gunmen opened fire during a public meeting, killing three women – Ncami Shange, 34, Beatrice Dlamini, 75, and Philisiwe Jili, 37.
Thami Mnguni, the candidate who was eventually nominated to stand as a councillor has since gone into hiding, fearing for his life.
A close confidant of Mnguni said he fears that without security, those who killed the three women could come for him.
“He is not seen in public because he is in hiding following the shooting incident. He is waiting to be elected to office, then given municipal bodyguards and start working for the community that elected him,” a senior ANC member close to Mnguni said yesterday.
Mnguni could not be contacted as his cellphone was off.
Another councillor candidate in eThekwini who asked not to be named said he was also in hiding and feared for his life.
“I reported the threat to the provincial secretary (ANC KZN provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli); that’s all I can say,” the candidate said.
However, ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said he was unaware of the claims that Ntuli has been informed, saying it could be possible that it was reported at the eThekwini ANC regional level.
Ntombela said they couldn't provide their candidates with security until the candidates had taken their oath of office.
“We advise them to report the threat to the country’s security agencies,” Ntombela said, adding that so far eThekwini is their only known “political killings flashpoints.”
The chairperson of the EFF in KwaZulu-Natal, Vusi Khoza, said they don’t want to create an atmosphere where the killing would be blown out of proportion by providing security to their candidates following Shangase’s murder.
He said their candidates have been advised to take precautions and report threats to their lives.
“Anyone, whether a pubic official or private citizen, has a right to be provided with security by their state if their lives are in danger… so we have advised our candidates to report any threat to the police so that they could be provided with protection,” Khoza said.
The IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) which has in the past lost members due to political killings, on Monday said it was concerned about an electoral environment that appears to be volatile, unstable and marred by violence. “We call on all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint and to strive towards a peaceful campaign environment.”
The party’s national spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said they have about three threats that have been officially recorded in Mzumbe (KZN South Coast), Malukazi in eThekwini, Pietermaritzburg.
“The threats to our candidate in Mzumbe were personally reported to me during a campaign trail in the area… In all these cases we advised our candidates to open cases with the police and on our side, we will escalate it with the IEC (Electoral Commission of South Africa.),” said Hlengwa.