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eThekwini silent on water unit killings

The Durban City Hall

The Durban City Hall

Published Nov 20, 2023


Durban — A senior manager, who has resigned after his colleague in the eThekwini Municipality’s water and sanitation unit was assassinated, says it’s not worth losing his life over a job.

Mthunzi Gumede, the acting deputy head of the unit’s support services, resigned on November 6, three days after his colleague, Emmanuel Ntuli, was killed.

Ntuli was shot three times in the head and stabbed in front of his wife and children at his home in Mandeni on KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast. Ntuli was assigned bodyguards but had left them behind on the day he was killed.

Gumede was also assigned bodyguards by the metro police.

Speaking to the Sunday Tribune this week, a source close to Gumede said he resigned from the position because he could no longer work under conditions where he would always need to watch his back to see if he was being followed by assassins.

“He felt that working under threats in an acting capacity was not worth risking his life for,” said the source.

Gumede who, despite resigning from the position, remains an employee of the City, declined to comment as he was not allowed to speak to the media.

The source said when Gumede was moved to the unit in March last year, he immediately contacted the metro police requesting bodyguards for himself, Ntuli and the unit’s head, Ednick Msweli, which were granted.

The source said Ntuli’s death had shocked everyone.

“It was worse because he had not told us that he had been facing death threats. Had all of the deceased told us that they had been facing death threats prior to their killings, we would know why they were killed and be able to assess whether we are also at risk or not.”

The source added: “Mthunzi told us that he could not work under conditions where senior managers were being killed for unknown reasons.”

Last week, this newspaper highlighted that three managers were killed. In a statement released after the article, the ANC in KZN said there were six deaths since last year, while the South African Municipal Workers’ Union said there could have been as many as 10 deaths. This could not be independently confirmed.

Police did not respond to enquiries about whether there had been any arrests regarding the slain managers.

Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana refused to state how many people from the unit had been killed.

“Crime statistics in relation to murder cases are released by the South African Police Service.

“Case dockets relating to dates, places and incidents of murders are kept and recorded by the South African Police Service as part of their investigation into any murder case and/or criminal incidents,” said Sisilana.

When asked what steps the municipality was taking to ensure the safety of its water and sanitation staff, she said: “Security information cannot be shared with a third party as criminals would be alerted and use this information as part of their modus operandi.

“Discussing security information is prohibited as it defeats the purpose of security provision.”

Sisilana said they could not speculate on the motives behind the killings “and appealed for responsible journalism and for the public to allow police space to investigate the unfortunate isolated incidents”.

“The public can contribute to solving the isolated murder cases by working with police by coming forward with any information that can assist in apprehending individuals or gangs who are hell-bent on terrorising communities through acts of criminality,” she said.

She said only the SAPS, not the municipality’s internal investigation, could determine the motive behind the killings.

On Wednesday, hundreds of municipal workers marched to the City Hall to demand, among other things, that the council ensure safe working conditions for those in the water and sanitation unit.

They also demanded the speedy arrest of the gunmen involved in the killings and their handlers.

Sunday Tribune