Solving political intolerance

2014-05-30 00:00

THE latest episode of political confrontations in the province occurred a week after we held our general elections on May 7, in the notorious Wembezi C Section in Estcourt.

Two members of the ANC, Nombuso Mabaso and Musawenkosi Nkosi, were brutally killed, and Mase Mbhele, the lucky survivor of the fatal incident, was taken to hospital.

This made me think that it had been just a week after 17 000 police officers were deployed to various parts of KwaZulu-Natal to ensure a peaceful election.

Now this brings me to the point that violent crimes, such as political killings, could be avoided in South Africa if our government would take them as seriously as it takes a big conference, elections or an international event like the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

During the World Cup, we saw scores of police officers spread throughout the province to reassure Fifa, the organiser, that South Africa was capable of hosting the prestigious world event without being disturbed by the prevailing contact crimes that lead to our people being killed on a daily basis.

If our government considers every day an important one as far as the safety of the community is concerned, and not only when there is an “important” event, perhaps then the killings will stop.

Wembezi was once the Inkatha Freedom Party’s stronghold, but it has since been divided between National Freedom Party (NFP) and ANC members. And they are both fighting a new battle, now that the elections are over. The battle is for control of the uMtshezi Municipality ahead of the 2016 local government elections.

Our state intelligence should have known that it is areas like Wembezi, KwaMashu hostel and Richmond, to name a few, that are politically unstable and so need a permanent deployment of SAPS officers until the situation in such areas subsided.

I say this because in the notorious KwaMashu hostel, Sithembiso Biyela, a member of the ANC, was murdered in what is believed to be a politically motivated hit. His girlfriend was shot and had to be rushed to hospital.

In the same weekend, members of the NFP, who were conducting a door-to-door campaign in Umzumbe, northern KwaZulu-Natal, were attacked by a group of people. Two cars belonging to NFP supporters were burnt.

These incidents, a few in a series of politically motivated attacks that left several people either dead or injured, happened shortly before the national general elections and are a reminder to all of us that the political intolerances that plagued KZN in the nineties are still very much alive and well.

What has always upset me about such no-go areas is that there was not much police visibility. This makes me believe that a police presence in all the violent hot spots will go a long way towards addressing the unnecessary killings.

This picture shows that our political maturity as a country and province is still questionable, and perhaps we need to have some sort of political-awareness classes at schools because it is mostly the youth who are being killed or being sent to kill during these political murders.

I worry that after 20 years of democracy, people still choose their political affiliations out of fear and misinformation because of the intimidation they are subjected to.

So my message to the powers that be is to treat our people with dignity and respect by protecting their lives in the build-up to the 2016 local government elections from those who would do just about anything, including killing their opponents, to hold on to their positions of comfort at the various municipalities across the province.

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