Newcastle councillor gunned down in her home

2010-01-25 00:00

A COUNCILLOR serving in the Amajuba District Municipality in Newcastle was killed in her home yesterday morning, police said.

The rumour mill is adamant that it was politically motivated.

Police Director Phindile Radebe said Thenjiwe Buthelezi (66), who was a Sedcon councillor, an independent organisation there, was gunned down in her home by unknown assailants.

Radebe said that Buthelezi’s neighbours reported that they heard gunshots go off at the councillor’s house in Section B in Osizweni at 7 am.

Radebe said the neighbours told police of seeing two men fleeing from the house, one of whom was carrying a pistol.

“Buthelezi, who was alone in her home, was found in her lounge with four gunshot wounds to her head and neck.

“She was a councillor for Ward 12 [Johnstone Farm], Madadeni. Police found four spent 9mm cartridges on the scene,” said Radebe

The provincial political violence task team under the command of Senior Superintendent Simon Madonsela will be investigating the murder, she said, adding that members of the public order policing unit will be deployed in the area.

“At this stage the motive for the killing remains unknown. Any person who may have any information that may assist in the investigation is requested to contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence,” said Radebe.

When asked whether the killing could be politically motivated, Radebe said that the investigation will be looking into that question.

Rumours persist that Buthelezi’s killing was politically motivated.

Sources said a meeting was convened on Friday at which a vote was going to be taken to unseat the Inkatha Freedom Party governing the council, following the ANC’s success in by-elections in November last year.

Towards the end of 2009, the two parties were at loggerheads, accusing one another of underhanded tactics to rule the council. The IFP claimed the ANC was luring its members by “buying” them to join the ruling party so that they could take over the municipality ahead of the 2011 local government elections.

One of the IFP councillors resigned last year, a move that gave the ANC more power in the council as both the parties had an equal split of 30 seats in the municipality, with the speaker’s vote giving the ANC an added advantage.

The ANC won the by-elections and media reports stated that the IFP had resisted the call for a council meeting at which an ANC mayor would be elected.

Recently, the ANC in the province called on the the provincial Co-operative Government Department to intervene against the IFP

In a statement, ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said the IFP had once again obtained a court interdict preventing the Amajuba District from convening a council meeting.

“With the ANC now being in the majority in the district, the meeting was convened to dissolve the existing council and to appoint a new mayor,” read the statement.

“That is why we call upon the MEC for Local [now Co-operative] Government and Traditional Affairs to also pursue legal options in order to bring stability in that district.

Both parties were not available for comment at the time of going to print.

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