Thabiso Zulu

DURBAN – The man responsible for blowing the lid on the alleged reasons behind the assassination of Sindiso Magaqa lashed out at the KwaZulu-Natal premier and the Moerane Commission of inquiry on Tuesday afternoon, saying they were “playing with our lives”.

Thabiso Zulu arrived at Premier Willies Mchunu’s Durban office to witness the long-awaited hand over of the commission’s report. 

He said he walked into the meeting room where Mchunu and his cabinet had gathered to be briefed on the report by commissioners.

“I was inside there when they were praying, because I wanted them to see, to look into my eyes and say here is the guy that we are failing. And I am representing quite a lot of other people who appeared before this commission,” Zulu told journalists later. 

Media ended up leaving the offices after being made to wait in a holding area for an hour without any explanation as to when the briefing would start.

Mchunu established the commission in October 2016 to probe political violence and killings in the province since 2011. It finished its sittings in March this year after having heard from over 60 witnesses.

Zulu testified before the commission in November about allegations of fraud and corruption at uMzimkhulu Municipality that he believes led to the assassination of Magaqa, a former African National Congress (ANC) Youth League secretary general and the most high profile politician yet to be killed in the province. Magaqa and Zulu were friends.

READ: LOOK: Journalists stage walkout after delay in KZN premier's arrival

Since Zulu and Les Stuta -- an official at Harry Gwala District Municipality -- first made public the allegations of corruption at Magaqa’s funeral, both have had to contend with death threats. Stuta did not testify before the commission.

Thabiso Zulu at the premier’s office on Tuesday afternoon. Zulu testified at the Moerane Commission of inquiry last year about the assassination of his friend, Sindiso Magaqa. MEDIA: ANA Reporter

“They promised us protection, we went and risked our lives and testified,” Zulu told journalists on Tuesday.

“They are telling us stories, they say they can’t provide protection to private citizens, that’s not fair. Why, in the first place did they agree that we must appear in the commission when they know that they can’t protect private citizens? Why did they ask for documents from private citizens that they can’t protect?”

Zulu said he and Stuta had undergone two threat assessments, once by crime intelligence in December 2017 and again by the State Security Agency in May.

“Without getting into details of what the reports are saying, I can tell you that both are saying there are threats on our lives, but the state remains adamant that they are not willing to provide security to private individuals,” he said.

He also questioned why the commission would not give him a transcript of his own testimony. “I have instructed my lawyers to demand the transcripts of my testimony. Why would they refuse to hand over my testimony to me?” asked Zulu, who did not testify in-camera and whose testimony was played widely on television.  “They are playing with our lives.”

Last year, Zulu eventually approached Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane – who had self-initiated an investigation into allegations of corruption at uMzimkhulu -- to help with protection for himself and Stuta.

In a press release issued last month, Mkhwebane said she was “frustrated by the lack of cooperation and delays on the part of the ministers of police and state security to finalise threat assessments and the determination of the level of protection to be provided to these whistle-blowers.”

African News Agency (ANA)