Ambush: Crack team set up

2009-04-28 00:00

A special task team has been appointed to investigate the murder of a 19-year-old ANC supporter and the injury of six others in an ambush at Swayimane near Wartburg on Freedom Day. The situation was tense when KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Cele visited the area yesterday, prompting the deployment of more security forces to monitor the situation.

Police yesterday confirmed that two men were arrested in the area.

“A 27-year-old man is in police custody and has been charged with murder and attempted murder. The second suspect has been charged with the possession of illegal firearms, but we can’t link him to the ambush at this stage,” said SAPS spokeswoman Phindile Radebe. She said both guns will be sent for ballistic testing to establish if they were used in the attack.

Swayimane is predominantly an IFP stronghold, but the tables were turned in this election and the ANC won an overwhelming majority in the area.

In celebration of their victory, ANC supporters were driving in a cavalcade when one of the cars ran out of petrol. About 13 cars and 100 supporters stopped to help out but three men emerged from the bushes and opened fire.

“This looks like a planned ambush, because beside the fact that the vehicle ran out of petrol there were rocks on the road that had to be removed,” said Cele after visiting the scene of the shooting.

He assured the family of the slain Zimisele Hlongwane that all suspects will be arrested soon.

“This area has a long history of political violence, but we will look at the criminal aspect of this matter. The task team led by KZN SAPS Commissioner Hamilton Ngidi will investigate this matter further and find answers quickly. Here people are nervous after this incident and we have deployed public order police to patrol the area until after the funeral,” he said.

The Swayimane ambush was one of the few incidents of violence that occurred during the election celebrations in the province. After visiting Swayimane, Cele and Ngidi flew in two helicopters to Ulundi where another incident related to political intolerance was reported. It is alleged that some ANC supporters were having a braai in celebration of the party’s victory when they were confronted by a group of people believed to be IFP supporters.

Cele said another incident of “fist fighting” was reported in Hammarsdale on the weekend.

Apparently ANC supporters who were celebrating the party’s victory had a confrontation with some IFP supporters and there was a fight. Cele said there was no shooting in the incident.

He raised his concern about the violence and pleaded for tolerance among political parties.

“We want to eradicate violence in KZN and that is why we are putting extra effort and visiting areas where there are signs of intolerance. We are not going to tolerate this nonsense where people are intimidated and even killed for party affiliation.”

sandilez@witness.co.za

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