Richmond politician slain

2017-04-04 14:17
Forensic pathologists gather evidence at the home of slain Richmond Deputy Mayor Thandazile Phoswa, who was shot dead early on Monday. INSET: The slain Richmond Deputy Mayor Thandazile Phoswa  who was shot dead.

Forensic pathologists gather evidence at the home of slain Richmond Deputy Mayor Thandazile Phoswa, who was shot dead early on Monday. INSET: The slain Richmond Deputy Mayor Thandazile Phoswa who was shot dead. (Sabelo Nsele/Supplied)

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The shooting of Richmond deputy mayor Thandazile Phoswa yesterday has brought back ugly memories of the dark political past, her family have said.

It was two decades ago that Phoswa’s parents, her father Joseph and her mother MaMkhize, and her two siblings were shot dead in front of the then nine-year-old Phoswa, during the political violence in the area.

The murders of her family members are among many in the area, which became a hotbed of political killings in the 90s, that remain unresolved.

Phoswa, who was also the ANC branch secretary, was shot dead in the early hours of of Monday morning.

ANC leaders, members, municipal officials and community members gathered outside Phoswa’s home on Monday, while forensic pathologists were collecting evidence.

Many expressed fear.

Her death follows that of municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole, who was shot dead in an apparent political assasination last month.

Police confirmed that a man had been taken in for questioning on Phoswa’s shooting. A source said the suspect had wrapped Phoswa’s dead body in a blanket, before driving with it to the police station to say that she had shot herself.

Family spokesperson Zachariah Phoswa said the deputy mayor’s death was a grim reminder of the past.

“It is worrying that she also had to die through a gun. We are humbly asking police to investigate this matter,” he said.

Zachariah said he was phoned at around 1 am yesterday and told that his niece had been shot.

“When I got here, she was already dead. As a family, we are saddened by her death. She is the one who was giving financial support to us,” he said.

Phoswa had two children — a 17-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter — neither of whom was at the house at the time of her death.

Richmond Mayor Joseph Mchunu said he now feared for his life.

“We do not know what will happen next.

“Not long ago we lost S’bu [Sibusiso Sithole]. We had a good working relationship and she was a hard-working young woman,” he said.

Regional chairperson Mthandeni Dlungwana said Phoswa had dedicated her life to the ANC during difficult times. “After what happened to her family, others would not have involved themselves in political activities.

“But because she knew the challenges faced by people of Richmond, she dedicated her life to the struggle of our people,” he said.

ANC regional secretary Mzi Zuma said there was nothing prior to the shooting that could have made them think Phoswa’s life was at risk.

He described her as a dedicated graduate of the ANC Youth League.

MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kuanda, condemned what he called a cold-blooded shooting.

“Police have been ordered to work around the clock to ensure that perpetrators of this shameful deed are brought to book very soon. We need to get to the bottom of this matter and find out what really happened,” said Kaunda.

MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube called for calm.

“We are shocked by this untimely death which comes only a few weeks after the killing of the municipal manager at the same municipality. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and the constituency of the deceased deputy mayor,” she said.

EFF suggests ANC politics to blame

Political parties have sent their condolence to the Phoswa family.

The ANC in the province said it finds “solace in the fact that someone has been arrested by the police in order to answer for this grave incident”.

“We call upon the people of Richmond to remain calm and place their hope and faith in the hands of the law enforcement agencies who are on the ground to ensure that order prevails,” provincial spokesperson, Mdumiseni Ntuli said in a statement.

“However, all our people must remain vigilant against thugs who want to set our province back to the terrible times before our democratic dispensation,” he said.

DA uMgungundlovu East constituency head Dean Macpherson said they “stand with the family and the people of Richmond during this difficult time”.

“We condemn this violence that is inevitably compromising the delivery of services to the people,” he said.

EFF councillor Jabulani Nene called for police to probe the incident.

“I find it strange that the ANC has said that there is no political link to this murder. What is it that they know that we do not know?

“I mean the police have not finished with their investigation, how do they know that it was not politically motivated. Both these people were politicians after all,” he said.

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