KZN premier releases Moerane Commission report into political killings

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has released to the public the 423-page Moerane Commission report looking into political killings in the province.

Mchunu tabled the report before the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday following a lengthy process of witness testimonies and evidence gathering.

In his executive summary, the premier said the commission had found "serious weaknesses in the criminal justice system", as well as national intelligence and other security apparatus that affected the effectiveness of personnel, coordination and coherence among security entities.

"This obviously hampers the prevention and resolving of cases related to political murders," he said.

"The recruitment of criminal elements by politicians to achieve political ends, resulting in a complex matrix of criminal and political associations, inevitably contributes to political murders."

The commission also found that the controversial Glebelands Hostel had been neglected and that lack of maintenance, poor administration and allocation of beds left to criminals allowed violent competition for control of the lucrative business of controlling the renting of beds.

Praise for commissioners

The report – which has been a great point of interest in the province since the commission was established on October 28, 2016 – revealed deep political tensions across political parties, a dismal Crime Intelligence unit and a slew of assassinations underpinning political advancement.

Mchunu gave the report high praise, saying that the commissioners, advocate Marumo Moerane, advocate Vasu Gounden and Professor Cheryl Potgieter, were highly respected and independent.

He assured media, after tabling the report, that the province would take the recommendations and ensure that they were attended to by all the relevant parties involved.

"As provincial government we will go to all the relevant stakeholders and deal with every single recommendation. These are professional independent people who put this report together and we plan to address all they have said."

Mchunu said that it was clear from the report that most political killings were at local government level.

"This involved mainly councillors and branch leaders of all political organisations and was not just prevalent within a single political party."

Political killings at local level

He said there was "clear evidence" that being elected as councillor was perceived as an opportunity for access to resources through tenders and other financial avenues.

"This led to corruption, crass materialism and conspicuous consumption. It is for this reason that contestation for entry into politics, particularly at local level, is fierce and could easily become violent."

He said that political killings at local level were a route to corrupt financial benefactors.

"Election as a councillor allows for upward mobility in financial and social status and lends itself to the creation of a patronage network."

Mchunu added political violence was rapidly establishing itself and becoming a "serious threat to democracy".

"This was also one of the key findings during the release of the national and provincial crime statistics. We clearly have reason for concern."

He went on to assure the public that measures would be taken by the state to "depoliticise and professionalise public services".

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