Cele urged to act on killings

2011-01-19 00:00

AN Inkatha Freedom Party leader in the Estcourt area has called on Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele to intervene in killings in the area that have claimed 10 lives since last year.

The killings are believed to be fuelled by infighting within the IFP.

The call comes ahead of a by-election to seek a replacement for expelled uMtshezi mayor Maliyakhe Lymon Shelembe.

The IFP secretary for the uMtshezi constituency, Mthembeni Majola, made the appeal during an interview with The Witness about the tense situation in the area.

Infighting has intensified between IFP factions — one linked to supporters of IFP national chairperson Zanele Magwaza-Msibi and another linked to its current leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

In the latest incident believed to be linked to the ongoing strife, a 69-year-old man known only as Ngcongo was shot more than 20 times by unknown assailants at his home in the eMabhanoyini area of Estcourt last Friday.

According to sources in the area, Ngcongo was on his way to the outdoor toilet at his home on Friday.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge confirmed Ngcongo was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds on Friday.

He said the motive for the attack has not been established and that no arrests have been made.

Ngcongo’s murder follows that of two young lovers, Mduduzi Mbatha (28) and Zakithi Ziqubu (21), who were shot dead at Mbatha’s homestead while in bed last Wednesday.

Family members have confirmed Ziqubu was seven months pregnant with Mbatha’s child at the time.

Majola, who is wheelchair-bound following an assassination attempt late last year, appealed to Cele to send a permanent contingent of police to the area.He said the situation is expected to worsen when electioneering for local government intensifies.

“We appeal to Cele to send police from outside this area, as well as some soldiers from the South African National Defence Force, to search each and every household for guns as more people continue to die in this area.

“We suspect that the situation in Estcourt is being overlooked because it’s an IFP-versus-IFP conflict, and police had been sent to other troubled areas like Nongoma and Mahlabathini in Zululand,” Majola said.

A spokesperson for Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday he would issue a statement on the Estcourt situation before the end of the week.

Cele’s spokesperson, Major General Nonkululeko Mbatha, had not responded to questions sent via SMS by the time of going to press.

Security is expected to be tight in most voting stations during by-elections for ward three in the uMtshezi municipality today.The ward became vacant last year after the IFP expelled Shelembe.

The ward will be contested by IFP candidate Mtshengiseni Zulu and the ANC’s Bongani Dlamini, as well as an independent candidate, Sihle Mbhele. Mbhele is believed to be linked to the Friends of VZ group. However, Shelembe denied this.

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