Councillor ‘killed for political beliefs’

2010-01-26 00:00

THE situation is heating up in Newcastle after the murder of a member of the Amajuba District Municipality council and the Federal Congress (Fedcon) on Sunday morning.

Thenjiwe Buthelezi (66) was shot four times in the head and neck while she was at home alone in Osizweni, Newcastle, and politicians believe that the killing is politically motivated.

Neighbours reportedly told the police they saw two men leaving Buthelezi’s home after the shooting.

Newcastle Mayor Afzul Rehman said he believed Buthelezi’s murder was politically motivated. “There is a battle for power in Amajuba and people will do anything to gain it. In the municipality’s 25-seat council, Buthelezi was holding the deciding vote, as she was in favour of the ANC. With her gone now, there are 12 seats for both the ANC and IFP,” said Rehman.

The Witness understands that there are attempts being made to oust Amajuba Mayor Mkhulu Mlangeni of the IFP and council speaker Peter Croft of the Democratic Alliance.

Fedcon has been working closely with the ANC in the council, while the IFP worked with the DA, putting Buthelezi in the spotlight as her vote was vital in tipping the scales in favour of the ANC.

Newcastle Fedcon councillor Gijimani Mncube said the murder was committed just before a meeting scheduled for today, at which a motion of no confidence against the Speaker was planned. The meeting was originally scheduled for last Friday, but had to be postponed after disagreement on a Fedcon councillor’s eligibility to vote.

“Buthelezi has been killed for her political beliefs. She was murdered just before a meeting in which she would have been a deciding factor in taking control of the Amajuba District,” said Mncube. He added that the police were visible in the area, especially in close proximity to the homes of councillors.

The DA has extended its condolences to the family of Buthelezi. The party’s MP for Amajuba, Alf Lees, said he was shocked to hear of the murder.

“While we did not always agree with her views, she was a true and gracious lady who always said and did what she believed was in the best interests of the people of Newcastle and Amajuba. We fervently hope that Buthelezi’s murder had nothing to do with her change of political support in the Amajuba council.

“The struggle for control of the Amajuba council has been long and drawn out. This can only have a negative impact upon service delivery to Amajuba. We call upon the SAPS to do everything possible to swiftly bring the murderers to justice,” said Lees.

Police spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said the motive for the killing remains unknown.

She appealed to anybody who may have any information that will assist in the investigation to contact the police.

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