Fear reigns after spate of killings

2012-09-25 00:00

AN atmosphere of fear and distrust pervades the South Coast, where several ANC members have been killed in internal spats in recent months, while the hitman in the latest killings remains at large.

However, police said yesterday they were confident of arresting the man.

“It’s just a matter of time,” said provincial spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker.

Dumisani Malunga, branch chairperson at Oshabeni, and fellow ANC member Bheki Chiliza were gunned down at Mehlomnyama earlier this month.

Their killing led to speculation that the Oshabeni by-election, scheduled for November 7, could be postponed.

But regional Independent Election Commission co-ordinator Siphiwe Yeni denied any knowledge of such plans.

He said voter registration had been postponed from last weekend to accommodate the men’s funerals.

“Registration will now take place on September 29 and 30 [Saturday and Sunday],” he said.

A seat became vacant following the death last month of councillor Ntombehle Gcabashe.

Sifiso Khumalo, who was Oshabeni ANC Youth League branch chairperson, pleaded guilty to Malunga’s murder and was sentenced to 22 years in jail. He said during his trial that he and Malunga were among four ANC members vying for the position of Oshabeni ward councillor. It had been suggested to him that Malunga should be killed to facilitate his election as councillor, and he had agreed.

At his trial, Khumalo identified his co-conspirators and named the assassin as a man called Alex.

At a joint memorial service for the two men late last week, ANC regional chairperson Mzwandile Mkhwanazi said it was strange that ANC members were being killed by people within the party.

“We used to bury people killed by the police or by other political parties’ members,” he said.

“I think the ANC leadership has a challenge.

“Those who know me will agree that I was fat and big at the beginning of the year. But I have become thin because I can’t rest due to the recent killings.

“As you know, Wandile Mkhize and Nhlakanipho Shabane were killed as well.”

Mkhize, who was chief whip in the Ugu District Municipality, was gunned down along with his friend, Shabane, on June 30.

Kwanele Cedrick Hlongwane (40) and Dumisani Sikhakhane (35), who were arrested for the murders, are expected to apply for bail next month.

At last week’s memorial, Hibiscus Coast Mayor Cynthia Mqwebu said it was painful that Malunga and Chiliza had “died at the hands of the people”.

“Now if you walk out there, you feel afraid to meet a person.

“You would prefer to meet a dog and walk along with it rather than with a person, because we do not trust people,” she said.

The case of ANC member Samuel Cele, who was also arrested for the murders of Malunga and Chiliza, is being heard separately.

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