Power struggles within the ANC in the Moses Mabhida region have been blamed for the recent killings of at least 10 residents and the displacement of scores of others in the Hlathikhulu area outside Dalton.The residents of Hlathikhulu, where three people, including ANC voting district co-ordinator Thembinkosi Ndimande, were killed this week, told The Witness that ANC leaders in the uMshwathi Municipality looked the other way as residents were being mercilessly mowed down by gunmen.“What has become very clear is that the gunmen who have been assassinating people are enjoying the protection from influential ANC people.“This is a very small community and we don’t understand how possible is it that neither the municipality nor Community Safety Department are able to intervene when so many people had been killed within such a short space of time, with others fleeing their homes. We now strongly believe that ANC politics has a lot to do with these killings,” a community member said.Busisiwe Hlongwa, the grandmother of Lindani Hlongwa. The residents fear for their lives after hitmen, who kick down doors before pumping bullets into victims’ bodies, have unleashed a reign of terror.Nico Mkhize, Chayi Makhanya, Banele Hlongwa, Thabiso Hlongwa and Lindani Hlongwa are some of the people who were recently gunned down in the area. Banele’s father, Felokwakhe Hlongwa, said the family are disappointed with the lack of support they have received from both the government and the ANC in the area. “The three Hlongwas were seated in one room when the gunmen smashed the window and sprayed them with bullets. The incident not only left the family devastated, it left the entire community in shock. What shook us the most is that neither the mayor nor his representatives from the municipality came to offer us support,” he said.According to another source, the local ANC councillor, Gugu Ngcobo, who has been aware of the ongoing murders in the area since the killings started last month, did not bother to report the incidents to the uMshwathi Municipality mayor, Mandla Zondi.“We have been told that the councillor and the mayor were not on speaking terms as the two belonged to rival camps within the ANC in the Moses Mabhida region where party members are currently at loggerheads over preparations for the upcoming regional conference,” the source said.Thabisile Hlongwa, the mother of Banele Hlongwa. However, Ngcobo has denied that she had failed to brief Zondi about the ongoing killings in the area.“The mayor, who is also the ANC Moses Mabhida Regional Task Team (RTT) co-ordinator, is fully aware of what has been happening in this ward,” she said.While Zondi conceded that he was aware of the killings, the uMshwathi mayor said he only became aware of the murders a couple of days ago. “The fact of the matter is that the councillor didn’t tell me anything, I only heard about the killing from other people,” he said.It has also emerged that KZN Community Safety MEC Bheki Ntuli has also not been briefed about the ongoing killings in Hlathikhulu.“Officials from the Community Safety Department became aware of the incidents through the local police station. “The officials are currently in the process of briefing the MEC, who will ensure that appropriate measures were put in place to end the killings,” he said.Asked about the nature of the violence in Hlathikhulu, Ncalane said police were currently investigating the murders.“However, preliminary investigations suggest that they could be a number of factors at play, ranging from taxi-related conflicts to family feuds,” he said.