Political violence in KZN feared

2011-08-09 00:00

THERE are growing fears that KwaZulu-Natal might be gripped by political violence yet again following the resurgence of politically related murders across the province.

On Sunday the newly-formed National Freedom Party (NFP) suffered a double blow when two of its leaders — Thinabakho Mthembu of KwaNgenetsheni in Vryheid and Gundu Makhanya of Walbedacht outside Durban — were shot dead in two separate incidents.

According to NFP spokesperson Zanele Cele, Mthembu was gunned down on his way home from a funeral, while Makhanya was shot outside his home.

Both of them died on the scene and nothing was stolen from them, which has given rise to speculation that the motivation for the attacks was only to kill them.

These incidents follow last week’s murder of Themba Cebekhulu, the Inkatha Freedom Party branch chairperson in the Mabhuyeni area of Umfolozi and IFP election candidate in Ndwedwe.

Another recent high-profile assassination was that of ANC eThekwini regional secretary Sbusiso Sibiya who was killed outside his home at the Congo area of Inanda.

NFP Zululand leader Mpiyakhe Hlatshwayo said Mthembu was accompanied by two men when he was attacked.

“Mthembu was on his way home from a funeral when they were confronted by a young man who asked their surnames.

“After telling the young man who they were, he then produced a handgun and started shooting Mthembu.

“He continued to shoot at him several times even when he was lying down dying,” Hlatshwayo said.

Hlatshwayo said that prior to Mthembu’s murder the party was alerted to the existence of a hit-list with names of NFP leaders in Zululand. The list was topped by Mthembu, himself (Hlatshwayo), the deputy mayor of AbaQulusi (Vryheid), Nonkululeko Ndlela, as well as NFP Zululand executive committee member and councillor Sakhi Siyaya.

KZN independent violence monitor Mary De Haas confirmed there has been a resurgence of political tension in the province, especially between NFP and IFP supporters.

“Leaders from all political parties must take responsibility for defusing these tensions. The police and our criminal justice system must severely deal with the perpetrators of political violence,” De Haas said.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane could only confirm the murder of Mthembu and said a murder docket was opened at Hlobane. No arrests have yet been made.

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