Let police from outside KZN investigate political killings, commission hears

2017-08-17 20:44
Sibusiso Zikode from Abahlali basemjondolo testifies at the Moerane Commission. (File, Kaveel Singh, News24)

Sibusiso Zikode from Abahlali basemjondolo testifies at the Moerane Commission. (File, Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban - An intervention by police from outside of KwaZulu-Natal is needed to investigate politically related killings in the province, the Moerane Commission heard on Thursday.

The commission is investigating underlying causes into political killings in the province.

Professor Richard Pithouse who is also a political scientist told the commission that local police can easily be influenced by politicians.

"I have often seen [for] myself that ... local political actors, councillors, businessmen and gangsters are able to direct police to do what they want them to do. They can direct police to arrest someone when there are no crimes of arrest and they can direct police not to arrest someone when there are crimes of arrest," he said.

Sometimes other armed aspects of the State like the land invasion unit can be directed by "local actors" to destroy someone's house, said Pithouse.

He said he has seen underlying cases with his own eyes numerous times.

"There are instances where local police do not conduct themselves in the interest of the law but according to the powerful players. That's why people want investigators from outside," he said.

Pithouse explained that the recent political killings were related to the civil war in the province in the 1980s to the early 1990s.

"The history has not been properly addressed," he said.

He revealed that "at the end of apartheid, violence did not completely stop".

There was a violent conflict between the IFP and the ANC and at a later stage there was violence between the IFP and NFP.

READ HERE: IFP, NFP 'bad blood' led to many killings in Umlazi - commission hears

"For me the decisive turning point, while I was still in Durban, was around the rape trial of Jacob Zuma and mobilisation campaigns by the ANC," he said.

He said during mobilisation in 2008, politicians used an exile military history approach.

"The theme song at the time for Jacob Zuma was 'uMshini Wami'," he said.

Factional and racial tensions

"Prominent people like Julius Malema were making robust statements like they were ready to kill for Zuma," added Pithouse.

According to Pithouse 'Mshini' means machine gun.

That did not only have an impact on the elite level but on the lower level, the commission heard.

"That had a very striking impact on the grassroot level too," he said.

Pithouse said he had attended meetings in Chatsworth since 2005 but in 2008 he saw and heard things he had never seen.

"People were militarised," he said.

There were even factional and racial tensions, Pithouse claimed.

When asked whether "the military approach of discourse and language of politicians" has an effect on the minds of the people and has an effect on political violence, he said, “Yes, definitely".

He said political violence was getting worse at present.

Competing for control

The commission had in the past heard that people, especially Abahlali BaseMjondolo members had been targeted and killed for taking part in protests over housing issues.

"Part of the crisis of the city (of eThekwini) is a crisis of land. They're only talking about rural land. The urban land question is fundamental," he said.

He told the commission that authorities should not only look at the value of the urban land where most shacks are situated but also look at ways to assist shack dwellers.

"Instead of demolishing shacks, extend democracy to everyone. Where are they expected to live?" he asked.

The commission has also in the past heard that part of political killings in KZN were due to fights over councillor positions.

"People are not just competing for salaries, but for control of tenders and distribution of houses," he said.

Pithouse called for the centralisation of tender processes and housing lists.

"There must be transparent tender processes and housing lists," he said.

He added that the free government houses are sometimes sold or "given to people loyal to parties".

The commission continues on Friday.

Read more on:    nfp  |  saps  |  anc  |  ifp  |  durban

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