KwaZulu-Natal hostel clashes leave one dead

2012-10-06 17:48

At least one person was shot dead yesterday at Durban’s KwaMashu hostel following the abduction of an IFP ward councillor on Friday night.

Yesterday, large numbers of police officers tried to control IFP members angered by the abduction of councillor Themba Xulu, and to prevent them from attacking homes in the area occupied by National Freedom Party (NFP) members.

One man lay dead in the street outside the railway station late yesterday afternoon, while police tried to stop an angry mob from crossing a railway bridge and invading the homes across the road in the township’s E-section.

A City Press team witnessed police officers taking sporadic gunfire from the other side of the railway line.

Minutes before the man was shot, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and IFP leader Albert Mncwango briefly addressed angry hostel residents.

Mthethwa’s entourage battled to get into the hostel precinct, where residents had overturned rubbish skips and used these, bricks and old vehicles to block the roads in and out of the sprawling shack settlement around the hostel.

Even as Mthethwa was briefing journalists, clashes were happening all over the hostel.

Xulu was abducted on Friday night from the hostel by five men dressed in police uniforms who picked him up at his home in the hostel.

However, investigations by IFP leaders revealed that no warrant for his arrest had been issued and that he had not been picked up by any police unit.

Angry IFP members took to the streets as news of Xulu’s abduction spread, with the blockade continuing throughout Friday night, with 3 000 IFP supporters demonstrating outside the local police station SAPS spokesperson captain Thulani Zwane said yesterday that police were looking for the abducted councillor, whose five abductors had claimed they were from the Pinetown Police Station and used a car with false number plates.

Friday’s abduction and yesterday’s killing are the latest in a series of political killings in the area, which began with the formation of the breakaway NFP from the IFP early last year.

The NFP was launched in January last year, shortly before the local government elections, by Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, a former IFP chairperson.

Two weeks ago, the son of the NFP’s proportional representation councillor for the area, Bungu Gwala, was shot dead in what police believe was an attempt on his father.

It is unclear who shot the unidentified man dead yesterday, but witnesses suggest he may have been caught in crossfire when a group of men tried to attack Gwala’s house and were fired at by bodyguards.

Late yesterday, leaders from the hostel and police were still locked in negotiations to try to end the violence in the area.

Mthethwa had to cut his visit short because of security concerns.

His spokesperson could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

Both IFP and NFP leaders have also been killed in Zululand, the Midlands and the Richards Bay area, with the two parties holding peace talks late last year in a bid to resolve the conflict.

Despite this, there has been ongoing violence involving members from the two parties in politically contested areas that the IFP had previously controlled but which have been taken over, either completely or partially, by the NFP.

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