Durban – The man who was shot in an ambush a month ago in what he believes was an assassination attempt for exposing allegations of corruption that may have led to the death of Sindiso Magaqa, is still without protection.
“Something has got to give now, I am not going to take this lying down. I am without protection and I remain vulnerable,” Thabiso Zulu told African News Agency (ANA) on Wednesday.
Zulu was shot in the arm during an ambush on October 26 while walking on Wartburg Road in the Copesville area of Pietermaritzburg with a friend, Mlungisi Professor Zondi. Zondi was not injured in the attack.
Two days after the shooting, the African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal – of which Zulu is a member – said its chairman Sihle Zikalala had “promised an urgent intervention to deal with this matter, and that support and protection will be provided to Zulu”.
Zikalala is also the province’s premier.
A self-styled “anti-corruption activist”, Zulu has been “pleading” with police and other authorities to provide him and fellow Magaqa whistleblower Les Stuta with protection since 2017.
Zulu and Stuta made astonishing allegations at Magaqa’s funeral, including that the former ANCYL secretary-general had evidence of tender fraud that involved high ranking officials within the Harry Gwala District Municipality and uMzimkhulu Local Municipality, which was why he was killed.
Magaqa, a PR councillor at uMzimkhulu at the time of his death, was ambushed along with colleagues Nontsikelelo Mafa and Jabu Msiya in the area in July 2017. Magaqa died in September the same year of complications from multiple gunshot wounds.
Mafa and Msiya both survived the attack and were assigned personal protection at the cost of the municipality, where they both work.
Zulu’s case was taken up by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who found that among other things, the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the minister of police had failed the men, and by doing so had placed their lives in danger.
She ordered that – on the strength of two security evaluations – Zulu and Stuta be given immediate protection at the cost of the state. That never took place as SAPS is challenging her findings in court.
Zulu has also alleged that he was promised security by president Cyril Ramaphosa the day after he was shot. According to Zulu, he spoke to the president on the phone belonging to state security agency minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
“[Ramaphosa] promised me that I was to be taken to a safe place and be provided with protection,” said Zulu.
“All those promises have resulted in nothing. No implementation, no explanation, no courtesy calls, nothing.”
Zulu said he had heard people accusing politicians of lying and being uncaring and that he had now “experienced it first hand”.
“The national officials of the ANC also received my text messages, and there was not even a response from any of them. I am disappointed that the president decided to lie, betray my trust and break his own oath of 'protecting the republic and its people at all times',” said Zulu.
Zikalala did not respond to questions from ANA at the time of publication, nor did Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko. Their statements will be added to this article should they respond.