Moerane report lambasted

2018-09-23 09:57
Advocate Marumo Moerane SC.

Advocate Marumo Moerane SC. (Siyanda Mayeza)

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The close friend of slain ANC councillor Sindiso Magaqa, Thabiso Zulu, who is a key witness at the Moerane commission of inquiry into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal, feels betrayed about what he calls its “whitewash report” – branding the two-year inquiry, budgeted at R15m, a “talk shop”.

Provincial premier Willies Mchunu released the much-anticipated report on Thursday after having received it earlier this year.

The commission, chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, was tasked with getting to the bottom of the cause of ongoing political killings in the province.

Zulu told City Press this week that he had not been hopeful about the report, given that the commission was merely a “talk shop with no investigative authorities”.

He added that if the commission had teeth, it would have looked into claims made against security companies operating in KwaZulu-Natal and servicing politicians.

“We have been saying, and we continue to say, that security companies are a starting point. Those companies house izinkabi [assassins],” said Zulu.

“People who are employed by those companies are not vetted. Their survival is linked to that of their political principals and they are willing to do whatever it takes to protect themselves and their principals. You have bodyguards by day and izinkabi by night.”

In a special report on political killings last year, City Press reported that Bheki Cele, the then deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries – and currently the police minister – had no faith in the commission.

“I don’t know why the commission was established. So Cele shot his sister and now what? You tell the story and then what? I don’t know what the aim and the contribution of the commission is, except to tell us a story,” Cele told City Press at the time.

“There is one thing that stops people from committing crimes, and that is finding the people who are committing the crimes. Once people see arrests, they will lose their appetite to commit those crimes because there are consequences,” he said.

Civil society groups and those tasked with monitoring the violence have been at the forefront of calling for action to be taken against those involved in the killings.

They have criticised the report for not placing enough blame on crime intelligence and police in the province, who, they allege, have been involved in the killings. The coming weeks could also see a bid to force the commission to release the transcripts of the evidence.

A number of the recommendations made in the 426-page report have to do with strengthening the police service. “The commission recommends that the state immediately take measures to depoliticise and professionalise the public service,” the report reads.

“It is recommended that an interministerial task force of national ministers of the security cluster, working with their provincial and municipal counterparts, immediately review the workings of the security agencies to ensure that effective coordination and coherence among and between these agencies is reinforced in practice.

“Competition and non-cooperation among these agencies is a major contributory factor to the unresolved murder of politicians, and consequently contributes to the perceptions and actual culture of impunity.”

Other recommendations speak to intra-party conflict, calling upon political parties to handle processes better.

“The evidence indicates that weak political parties and leadership are what lead to factionalism and intolerance within and between parties which, in turn, result in violent conflict, often resulting in the murder of political functionaries.

“It is therefore recommended that political parties build a strong membership base that is rooted in democratic values, political competition, tolerance, sound moral values and service to the public.”

Mchunu said on Wednesday that the strongest theme which had emerged across the testimonies given was that of the scourge of intraparty conflict.

Moerane chaired a similar commission in KwaZulu-Natal in the mid-1990s, following the Shobashobane massacre, which took place on Christmas Day in 1995 on the lower South Coast. The report by that commission was never made public by the province.


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