Police minister Bheki Cele expresses concern as political killings persist; team set up to deal with scourge in KZN
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DURBAN - POLICE Minister Bheki Cele has expressed serious concern about the continued killing of politicians in the province. This was after EFF ward councillor candidate Thulani Shangase was gunned down in Pietermaritzburg – the second political killing in three days.
Last Friday, ANC councillor candidate Siyabonga Mkhize and ANC member Mzukisi Nyanga were killed in Cato Crest, Mayville, after conducting door-to-door campaigning.
Cele spoke in Mpumalanga, fielding media questions on how the ministry was going to tackle the political killings that have once again put KwaZulu-Natal in the spotlight.
“We are meeting (on Tuesday) with the Electoral Commission of SA and the national party liaison committee of politicians to discuss these issues.
“We have an established team dealing with political killings in KZN. The team has done commendable work. Many people have been arrested, with some serving life imprisonment sentences,” said Cele.
EFF regional secretary in the Umgungundlovu region, David Bonga Msomi, said Shangase’s murder came after the party was recently bullied in the area during a voter registration campaign.
“We are deeply concerned about political killings continuing unabated in KwaZulu-Natal. Just recently the EFF president was being harassed when they were campaigning here. Now they killed one of our own to send a message that they will do whatever it takes to remain in power.”
The regional party leadership visited the Shangase family on Monday, he said.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said Shangase was shot and killed while apparently returning from an EFF campaigning meeting in Herwood, Plessislaer.
He said the motive for the murder had not yet been established.
“We have mobilised the 72-hour Activation Plan, which entails the mobilisation of specialised units such as Crime Intelligence, the KZN Political Task Team, detectives, and the Hawks to ensure that evidence, intelligence, and information that can help track and arrest those responsible, is gathered.”
Naidoo appealed to anyone with information to contact the SAPS at the CrimeStop number 08600 10111 or via the MySAPSApp. Informers may remain anonymous, and all information will be treated with the strictest confidence.
IEC chief communication officer Kate Bapela said the elections would proceed on November 1 as proclaimed by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Police would provide protection for all voting stations, Bapela said.
Earlier this month, Cele said that 96 voting stations had been identified as hot spots for potential political violence in the run-up to the local government elections. Municipalities such as eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, Newcastle, and Umzimkulu were problematic, he said.
As a result, Cele said, the police would be deployed to all voting stations. Additional SAPS could be deployed to a voting station depending on the risk factor and crime intelligence reports.
Meanwhile, former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede visited the Mkhize and Nyanga families on Monday to offer her condolences. Nyanga was an activist in Cato Crest and a member of the ward committee.
Gumede said it was important for people to remain calm and allow the police to do their work and arrest those involved. “It is tragic what happened to those comrades. I am here to see how best we can assist the families and to also show that we are with them in spirit. We will also find out about details for the funeral,” said Gumede.
Siphiwe Khanyile and Sicelo Notshesi were in the car with Mkhize when he was killed. They on Monday told the Daily News that the latest murder added to their trauma. They appealed to the ANC and the police to consider protection for them, especially during Mkhize and Nyanga’s funerals. Khanyile said they wanted to meet the ANC and police to discuss their safety ahead of the funeral and the court appearance of the two suspects police have arrested.
“We are worried. We are not even sure whether we would be able to attend our two comrades’ funerals because we fear for our safety,” said Khanyile.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said: “The police must be allowed to make proper investigations before we cast aspersions or our own suspicions. Nothing yet warrants bodyguards for candidates or councillors. This can only be determined by a State Security Agency assessment of security threats.” | ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WILLEM PHUNGULA