Money, lack of morality contribute to political killings - expert

2017-07-18 12:06
Sociology expert Professor Paulus Zulu speaks at the Moerane Commission. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Sociology expert Professor Paulus Zulu speaks at the Moerane Commission. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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Durban - A sociology professor with expertise in political violence in KwaZulu-Natal says that financial remuneration and a lack of morality have contributed to bloodshed in the province.

Professor Paulus Zulu, who has a PhD in applied social sciences testified at the Moerane Commission in Durban on Tuesday. The commission was established to probe the province's high number of political murders.

According to Zulu, in KZN and SA there was a culture of eliminating the competitor rather than outperforming them.

"We are a nation who does not want to be criticised. We are always victims of something. This needs to be looked at seriously. Why is it does it manifest in eliminating the opposition and not outperforming the opposition?"

Zulu said there was a culture of bloodshed in KwaZulu-Natal.

"A serious study needs to take place. Why is the manifestation always violence?"

READ: 33 politically motivated murders in KZN since January 2016

Policing

According to Zulu, if one followed the trend of violence in KZN, people in key leadership positions were being killed.

"They are people in positions in the political structures: Accompanying that is a culture of complacency in the criminal justice system, particularly with the police."

He said it was very rare that police immediately apprehended perpetrators of political violence.

"One is left wondering: Why is that the case? Do we have such bad detective work? Or is it part of the factional syndrome - not just in this province - but right through to national?"

He said perpetrators seem to be "protected higher up so they can perform these acts with impunity".

Zulu said killings seldom occurred at the level of MPs and MPLs because there were few positions available in those arms of government. He said that for councillors, however, far more was at stake.

"If you look at eThekwini Municipality alone there are 400 councillors. But MPLs are probably around 80."

Zulu also said that the low qualifications required to be a councillor also played a pivotal role in violence. He said councillors merely needed to not have a criminal record.

"One just needs to be connected to the political elite to be in a position. There are no qualifications. Lots of councillors could only be employed as ordinary factory workers and labourers if not councillors. The councillor salary is high. They think: 'I either have the job or I do not have a job at all.'"

He added that South African politicians were inordinately paid compared to MPs in Australia, India, United Kingdom and Canada.

"The Australian MP earned about two and a half times a highly paid motor industry factory worker. India was the same. Britain was also not far. However, the SA parliamentary position paid 8.5 times more than the motor industry higher ups. SA politics extremely highly remunerated."

READ: No end to political murders in KZN

Connections to higher ups

Zulu said he also felt that it was possible state organs such as the National Prosecuting Authority could also be politically motivated.

"Through connectivity, that could happen. It probably is. The NPA has a chain of command from the top to bottom. I would not think it beyond that angle of analysis."

He said investigators would also need to start at lower levels to link to the higher ups who offer protection through political influence.

He said there was a morality of looting and corruption.

"In order to maintain your position from the apex, you need support from the base. The link is local, provincial to the national."

Branch affects the region, which influences the provincial which impacts the national, Zulu said.

"There is an interest at the very top for what happens at the very bottom. If you happen to be contesting for local elections and not seen to be inclined to particular faction, you would be a sitting duck. If people killed you, chances of your killers being pursued are slim. You don't matter at the top. No one would hit back."

On Monday, independent researcher and human rights activist Vanessa Burger testified that Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi was a "reservoir of hitmen". She said that many political hits in the province were undertaken by hitmen from the hostel.

KZN Premier Willis Mchunu established the commission in October 2016, chaired by Advocate Marumo Moerane, to investigate the high number of political killings in the province since 2011.

Read more on:    durban  |  political killings  |  crime

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