ANC's internal politics led to killing of Umzimkhulu councillor, Moerane Commission hears

Durban – Some people within the ANC in Umzimkhulu were not happy that slain Umzimkulu municipality councillor Mduduzi Tshibase served as a proportional representation (PR) councillor after serving as a ward councillor for two consecutive terms, the Moerane Commission heard on Tuesday.

Tshibase, who was also a teacher, was shot dead on May 23 last year while at the gate of his family home in Umzimkhulu, in southern KwaZulu-Natal.

His fiancé, Phumza Priscilla Diko, told the commission that Tshibase had told her that some people in the ANC were not happy that he was voted in as Ward 14's councillor for the second term.

"He became a councillor in Ward 14 in 2006. He was a councillor there for two terms, and in August 2016 he began serving as a PR councillor in the municipality. He told me that some people within the ANC were not happy, but the community had voted for him," said Diko.

Diko explained that the reason for their unhappiness originated from internal politics.

"While serving as a PR councillor, he told me he had political enemies. He said he would die anytime soon for speaking the truth. He said there were some people in the ANC who didn't want him to be a PR councillor," she said.

She said Tshibase didn't share most of his political problems with her, "just for her own protection".

Diko said she believed that Tshibase's murder was politically motivated, as "he had no enemies at the local school he taught at".

She said on days leading up to Tshibase's murder, he was even afraid of driving at night.

'He feared for his life'

Diko said Tshibase was shot dead only a few weeks after the murder of the municipality's speaker, Khaya Thobela, in April.

The commission has heard that Thobela was also killed for political reasons, as he had sometimes disagreed with his faction on certain issues.

"After Thobela's murder, he [Tshibase] would only visit us [her and their child] during the day because he feared for his life. He believed that his phone was bugged and he preferred meeting me in person, instead of calling me," said Diko, adding that she lived in town in Umzimkhulu, while Tshibase lived with his parents outside town.

After Tshibase's death, former ANCYL secretary general Sindiso Magaqa, who was also a PR councillor in the same municipality, was shot on July 13 and succumbed to his injuries while at a Durban hospital in September.

READ: Sindiso Magaqa's family still in the dark about official cause of death – Moerane Commission hears

Magaqa was shot because he was fighting corruption within the municipality, the commission has previously heard.

"Tshibase was a political friend of Magaqa," Diko said.

Diko couldn't answer some of the questions posed to her by the commissioners because she currently works as an administrator at the same municipality.

She said she began working there as a PA in 2009, and had recently become an administrator.

'His death is so painful to me'

She told the commission that she began dating Tshibase in 2010 and that he had three children.

Two of them were 16 years old and the last born – their only child together - was 19 months old.

"His death is so painful to me because my first child, who was only 11 months old when he was shot dead, would grow up without knowing his father," she said.

Diko said she last spoke to Tshibase about 30 minutes before he was shot.

"He had already opened the gate at the time of his shooting. His car was halfway through the gate. After the shooting, my father-in-law went out and found him inside his bullet-riddled car. The shooters fled the scene immediately after the shooting," she said.

She said no one has been arrested yet for Tshibase's murder.

"Police last visited me on the first week of this month (January) to give me an update on the matter."

The commission – investigating the underlying causes of political killings in KwaZulu-Natal – has been adjourned to January 23.

Chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, the commission was established in October 2016 to investigate the high number of political killings in the province since 2011.

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