Renting of beds the main cause of violence at Glebelands Hostel – police

2018-02-20 20:11
Glebelands Hostel. (Siyanda Mayeza, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

Glebelands Hostel. (Siyanda Mayeza, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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Durban – The much-awaited testimony of the South African Police Service got underway at the Moerane Commission on political killings in Durban on Tuesday.

A full panel of witnesses, made up of high-ranking officers accompanied by a police advocate, began their evidence on police investigations in the Glebelands Hostel from 2009.

Led by Major General Dumezweni Chiliza – a former Umlazi cluster commander – police denied killings were political. Instead, they outlined how factional fighting for control over the renting out of beds in rooms within the hostel was the source of ongoing violence.

READ: Another man shot dead at the notorious Glebelands Hostel

According to Chiliza, there were two offending groups: the Mthembu and the Hlophe. The two groups, he said, had been constantly attacking each other in recent years.

He said Mthembu, whose full name was not divulged during the testimony, was the former chairperson of Block R at the hostel and led one group, while Hlophe, whose full name was not given, formed an opposing group.

Chiliza said that in 2014, the sides disagreed on councillorship, leading to government intervention.

"When trying to resolve the problem of Glebelands Hostel, a five a side (a sit down with five members from each faction) was established to resolve problems in the factions. The department of community safety and liaison was facilitating the discussions."

Unregulated structures

Chiliza said that while crime was still high, there had been a drop in violent crime in the area. 

"In our analysis, the trend of violent crimes, especially in murders and attempted murders, was subsiding even though there was a prevalence of fighting regarding councillorship and ward committees." 

According to Chiliza, the primary problem at the hostel was unregulated structures that wanted to control the running of the hostel.

"It is a lucrative business, selling bed spaces and collecting money from residents. The unregulated structures lead to informal leadership and self-appointed leaders collecting more monies."

Chiliza said residents were also too afraid to speak out against people they paid for lodging.

"Regarding collection of monies from residents, during my tenure there, I had not heard a single resident saying they had to pay money for a bed. They fear for their lives. Not one person came forward. Yet, one hears money is being collected all the time."

Police involvement in violence

He said that the formation of a regulated housing committee might assist in remedying the current situation.

Chiliza said accusations that a police officer was involved in the violence at the hostel were unfounded.

"There were allegations a police officer residing at the hostel was part of the violent crime, but at that time, there was no evidence to support this link to criminal activity."

The officer has since appeared in court on several occasions, accused of murder.

The police testimony continues. 

Read more on:    durban  |  moerane commission  |  glebelands hostel

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