What led to Zondi killing?

2009-01-23 00:00

THE assassination of Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi, a close ally of ANC president Jacob Zuma, could be linked to ongoing taxi violence in the Msinga area.

This is according to MEC for Safety and Community Liaison, Bheki Cele, who said that while police are exploring all possibilities, they believe Zondi’s killing could either be political or linked to taxi violence in the area, which also claimed the lives of two others this week.

Zondi did not actually own a taxi. However, it has been suggested by sources close to Weekend Witness that he might have had a silent partner in the industry.

Cele confirmed that police are looking at taxi violence as a possible motive. “We hope that when we arrest [the attackers], they will be able to tell us the real motive for this.”

Chris Ngiba, the chairman of the Lower Tugela Taxi Council, sounded surprised to hear that there was a possibility that Zondi’s death could be linked to the ongoing violence.

He said that he did not know of any links that Zondi might have had with the taxi industry. “As far as I know, he did not own any taxis and therefore I am surprised to hear this,” he said.

KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said Zondi’s killing “was clearly a marked assassination that could easily be political”.

“Msinga is one of the areas that will be heavily contested in the upcoming elections. There have been other incidents of violence and intimidation. Just recently there was an attempt to assassinate an ANC councillor in Muden. So yes, on the surface it looks political,” she said.

The killing of Zondi, the great-grandson of Inkosi Bhambatha kaMancinza, has raised emotions on the political front and in the Ngome community, where he was a tribal inkosi.

Cele said the police are hot on the heels of the criminals. “Police are looking for three suspects.

They have heard that we are looking for them and are on the run, but there is great hope.” He said the suspects are dangerous criminals who are wanted in other cases.

He said two cars were used in the attack.

“This was a well-planned hit. Two VW Polo cars were used. A brown car was found abandoned in Umlazi and was positively linked to the attack. It was also discovered that it had been hijacked earlier in the day.”

KwaZulu-Natal cabinet MECs, Premier Sbu Ndebele and provincial leadership of the tripartite alliance converged on Zondi’s homestead in Ngome to show their sympathy to the family. Ndebele said Zondi played a major role in the revival of the memory of Bhambatha.

“The Bhambatha family is a legacy family and … we have requested the family to allow us to make Inkosi Zondi’s funeral an official state funeral.” Family spokesman Sandile Zondi said the proceedings will be a combination of traditional and state funeral. The date for the funeral has been set for January 31.

The killing was condemned by the leaders, who mostly blamed political intolerance for the killing.

Ndebele said it shows disregard for the democratic advances that have been made in the country.

“It’s foolish to think that by killing someone you would reverse peace in the taxi industry, development in rural areas and the participation of traditional leaders in democratic processes.”

Greytown Mayor and IFP leader in the area Petrus Ngubanealso paid tribute to Zondi yesterday.

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