‘A smear campaign’

2017-05-03 13:45
Khaya Thobela, who was the speaker of the uMzimkhulu Municipality, was gunned down at his home two weeks ago.

Khaya Thobela, who was the speaker of the uMzimkhulu Municipality, was gunned down at his home two weeks ago. (File)

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ANC members aligned to the Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma faction in the Harry Gwala region believe rumours linking local ANC members to the murder of the regional deputy chairperson, Khaya Thobela, were a well-orchestrated strategy to demonise the camp ahead of next month’s regional conference.

“From what we have observed, these comrades are prepared to do anything to win support, even going to the extent of disrespecting the dead by spreading all sorts of misleading statements,” a regional executive member (REC), who did not want his name published, said.

Thobela, who was also the speaker of the uMzimkhulu Municipality, was gunned down at his home two weeks ago.

Fights over the control of the ruling party at local as well as the provincial level are said to be at the centre of the recent killing of ANC leaders in the province.

Thobela is said to have been considering contesting for the regional secretary position at the upcoming regional conference.

Despite provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala having described the killers of ANC leaders in the province as “prowling blood-thirsty assassins”, suggesting the attacks were political motivated, Sindi Msomi, the Harry Gwala regional secretary, on Tuesday suggested there was another motive behind those linking Thobela’s murder to ANC infighting.

“We strongly believe that those spreading the rumours have a vested interest in the upcoming regional conference. Our assessment of the situation is that there are people out there who want those who will be contesting for the position of secretary to be seen as killers in the eyes of voting delegates,” she said.

Msomi said there was no evidence Thobela had intended to contest the regional secretary position at next month’s conference.

“No one has told me about that, I only saw it in the newspapers,” she said.

Despite a suspect having been apprehended a few days after the shooting, police are yet to charge him with Thobela’s murder.

KZN police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that the suspect, who was arrested on the N3 near Ladysmith while in a minibus taxi heading for Johannesburg, appeared in the Ladysmith Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

“The suspect appeared in court for possession of an unlicensed firearm. He was remanded in custody until May 8. Investigations are still continuing.”

The spike in political killings in the province has resulted in the provincial government’s establishment of a commission of inquiry into the murders, estimated to be more than 20 in the past 12 months.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  political killings

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