Swift arrest in municipal speaker shooting

2017-04-25 14:00
Umzimkhulu Municipal Speaker and ANC Regional Deputy Secretary Khaya Thobela on Sunday succumbed to gunshot wounds at the Port Shepstone Hospital after being shot several times at his home in Mfundweni on the South Coast.

Umzimkhulu Municipal Speaker and ANC Regional Deputy Secretary Khaya Thobela on Sunday succumbed to gunshot wounds at the Port Shepstone Hospital after being shot several times at his home in Mfundweni on the South Coast. (File)

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A deft police intelligence operation set in motion shortly after the shooting of uMzimkhulu municipal speaker Khaya Thobela on Thursday evening, resulted in the arrest of a suspect less than 48 hours after the murder. The shooting is suspected to be a political hit.

The suspect, aged 37, was arrested at a roadblock in Van Reenen while in a minibus taxi heading to Johannesburg.

“The taxi was stopped ... and the suspect was found in possession of a revolver with no ammunition,” KZN spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said.

Thobela, who was also the ANC regional deputy secretary in the Harry Gwala region, on Sunday succumbed to gunshot wounds at the Port Shepstone Hospital after being shot several times at his home in Mfundweni on the South Coast.

While the ANC in the region could not confirm this, reports said the murder of Thobela, who is said to have been eyeing the secretary position in the upcoming regional conference scheduled for June, was linked to ruling party infighting. The regional leadership, however, confirmed several ANC leaders in the area­ have had their security increased following threats on their lives.

“It is true that certain leaders have been provided with state protection after security assessments had revealed that they were not safe. When it comes to the matter around the provincial deputy secretary, I’m not aware of any threats on his life before the Thursday shooting,” he said.

Thobela’s assassination is the latest in a string of killings in the province suspected to be linked to ruling party internal battles over positions.

The political violence, estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 20 political figures in the province in the last 12 months, resulted in Premier Willies Mchunu announcing a commission of inquiry to probe the killings.

Community Safety MEC Mxolisi Kaunda said it was important that those behind the killings in the province were put behind bars so as to send a strong message to would-be assassins.

“We say bravo to police for this swift action. We have to deal swiftly with this new trend whereby those who hold public office and political positions are targeted for attack and murder,” he said.

The suspect in Thobela’s murder appeared briefly in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, where the matter was postponed to next week.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  political killings

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