IFP leader shot as tension escalates

2010-07-22 00:00

THERE are fears of growing violence in the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leadership battle following the attempted murder of an IFP leader in Estcourt, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands this week.

On Tuesday, uMtshezi constituency secretary of the IFP Mthembeni Majola was shot several times in what has been described as an assassination attempt. He is now under 24-hour guard (by private security) at an undisclosed hospital in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. This follows reports that his attacker(s) might try to finish him off in hospital.

Majola was shot near his home in eSigodlweni in Estcourt, and the body of a bodyguard of another IFP leader in the area was found at the scene of the shooting.

“Witnesses said they heard gunshots at about 9 pm and the bodyguard was found dead. Majola was shot at several times and taken to hospital where he is in a critical but stable condition,” a source in the area said.

When The Witness phoned Majola’s cellphone yesterday, a person who answered the phone identified himself as a security guard hired to guard him as there are fears that his attackers might come to hospital to finish him off. The guard said he could not reveal who had hired him to guard Majola.

The attack on Majola is believed to be linked to a power struggle between IFP supporters in Estcourt, with one faction supporting national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and another backing secretary-general, the Reverend Musa Zondi.

Majola, a staunch supporter of Zondi, led a march in April against the uMtshezi Municipality, which is led by IFP Mayor Maliyakhe Shelembe, who is believed to be a strong backer of Magwaza-Msibi.

Yesterday Zondi said it was not the first time that Majola had been attacked in the past two months as tensions escalate in the area.

He is still recovering from bullet wounds he sustained in another assassination attempt about a month ago, when he was shot in broad daylight near the First National Bank in Estcourt, Zondi said.

“Such incidents vindicate our decision to call off the national conference until ructions within the party have normalised. This also clearly indicates that the conflict is not within the leadership only but has also spread to the supporters.

“We cannot call these people together at the same venue for the national conference until tensions are resolved, as that will result into a disaster. So it is wrong for the people to say that we postponed the conference because we want to hold on to our positions,” said Zondi.

Since infighting broke out in the IFP, most of its constituency and district conferences have been marred by incidents of violence.

In KwaMashu a Zondi backer, Michael Makhathini, was shot dead and scores of other people injured during an IFP meeting in the area last month. Last week, many people were injured at an IFP meeting in Johannesburg.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge confirmed both incidents involving Majola and said that murder and attempted murder cases had been opened.

Mdunge said another case of intimidation connected to the incidents was opened yesterday.

Mdunge said the motives for the attacks are not yet known and no arrests have been made. Investigations are continuing.

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