Picture: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

Durban - Criminals involved in the murders of political activists in KwaZulu-Natal may be too strong and elusive for a task team appointed to handle high-profile political killings, according to criminal expert Professor Johan Burger.

Burger was reacting to another withdrawal of murder charges against various suspects implicated in slayings that have rocked the province since 2015. “One can conclude that this (police) task team was not as effective as one would have expected. It is possible that those criminals were hired as professional criminals who understand the science of committing these crimes without leaving traces,” said Burger.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court last week withdrew murder charges against six men in connection with the killing of a backer of President Cyril Ramaphosa and ANC activist Msawenkosi Mchunu last year.

The task team subsequently arrested four suspects, including Msunduzi Municipality councillor Nkosinathi Gambu and deputy mayor Fucwana Zungu’s son, Gift Zungu.

However, the court later dropped charges against all accused due to lack of evidence.

KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas has described the task team in question as “incompetent”.

She said suspects should not have been taken to court without sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

The task team had previously failed to secure the conviction of eThekwini councillor Mthokozisi Nojiyeza for the alleged murder of former ANC activist Sbu Maphumulo in October last year.

Nojiyeza was acquitted in May after spending six months in police custody.

Newcastle Mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba was also released two months ago after being in and out of the Madadeni Magistrate’s Court facing charges of murdering ANC Youth League leader Wandile Ngobeni.

The task team had also failed to convict Harry Gwala District mayor Mluleki Ndobe, who was charged with the murder of ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa.

Police ministry spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said the minister still had “full” confidence in the task team.  

The National Prosecuting Authority in KZN could not be reached for comment.

Political Bureau