King Zwelithini could help stop violence at Glebelands Hostel, commission hears

2017-12-14 19:07
King Goodwill Zwelithini (Khaya Ngwenya, City Press)

King Goodwill Zwelithini (Khaya Ngwenya, City Press)

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Pietermaritzburg – An organisation representing hostel dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal has told the Moerane Commission that the influence of King Goodwill Zwelithini could help stop violence at the troubled Glebelands Hostel in Durban.

Spokesperson for Ubunye Bamahostela Mthembiseni Thusi on Thursday testified that politics and corruption were large contributing factors to the violence and killings in the area. 

He said that political figures could only do so much but that intervention from the Zulu monarch would help foster a permanent solution. 

More than 90 people have been killed at the hostel since 2014. Those who have testified before the Moerane Commission, which was established to ascertain the underlying reasons for political killings in KwaZulu-Natal, have described the hostel as a hotbed of criminal activity and a home for hitmen. 

According to Thusi, just before the 2016 local government elections, there were talks to have the king visit the area, but this was derailed by "politics".

"There was confusion about who would introduce the king to the people. Some people did not want Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi to introduce him because he is IFP and we were so close to elections."

Response from Madonsela

Thusi said provincial and municipal structures were meant to deal with politics, while the king was apolitical. 

"People have respect for the king and they know they can trust him to bring peace to our people. We need him to be in Glebelands."

Thusi said that he had reached out to many structures, including the United Nations and religious organisations, but only received a tangible response from former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. 

"Though we hoped that these structures would be of assistance, nothing happened."

He said Madonsela "took our matter seriously and came to see what was happening in the hostels". 

"The [former] Public Protector found that the police and municipality did not do enough to protect us. She said police should investigate those that are selling beds and arrest the killers. If that was done we would not have had the number of people killed." 

Unemployment, poverty

Thusi said there was also a need for people who take up residence in hostels to be vetted. 

"We need block chairpersons to be responsible for the person coming in, check where they are from and make sure he is not running away after killing people. Check if his motives are not to wake up at night and kill people and become an unknown killer."

He said living conditions in hostels were appalling, yet rent had increased.

"The rent was doubled without the municipality considering the number of unemployed residents in the hostel. Eighty percent of residents are unemployed." 

Thusi called for skills training programmes for residents so they can be employable, get jobs and be in a position to afford rent.

"Few residents are employed and therefore there is a high rate of poverty. Lots of people are living together. Some have 20 children and nothing to put on the table."

Read more on:    king goodwill zwelithini  |  durban  |  moerane commission

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