Tide turning on hit men

2018-09-14 15:45
From left: Police minister Bheki Cele, state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, acting Premier Sihile Zikalala and KZN community safety MEC, Mxoli Kaunda at a media briefing in Durban on Thursday on political killings in the province.

From left: Police minister Bheki Cele, state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, acting Premier Sihile Zikalala and KZN community safety MEC, Mxoli Kaunda at a media briefing in Durban on Thursday on political killings in the province. (Clive Ndou)

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As cops round up murderers involved in political killings in the province, police minister Bheki Cele has revealed that several illegal firearms have been recovered from suspects who were arrested in connection with the murder of ANC Pietermaritzburg activist, Musawenkosi “Maqatha” Mchunu.

“I can confirm that eight people have being arrested in connection with the Mchunu matter. Police also found five firearms among the people,” he said.

Cele, who was speaking during a media briefing by security cluster ministers in Durban on Thursday, told journalists that the eight suspects formed part of the 23 that had been arrested across KZN in connection with the murder of politicians in the province. “The message we are sending out with these arrests is that if you want to kill political figures go somewhere else, the time of acting with impunity is over,” he said.

The 23 suspects include one who had been arrested for the murder of former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary general, Sindiso Magaqa, who died from gunshot wounds in September last year after he had been ambushed by gunmen near his hometown of uMzim­khulu.

Cele, who is the head of the inter-ministerial task team set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa shortly after Mchunu’s murder in May, said the suspect arrested in connection with Magaqa’s murder was not the same as the one arrested a few months ago but who was later released because of insufficient evidence. “A suspect in the murder of the former Youth League general secretary appeared in court on 13 September. He’s not the last one, we’re still hunting some other people,” he said.

On 21 suspects currently in custody, including the eight nabbed in connection with Mchunu’s murder, Cele said the “culprits” were in the process of being transferred to the notorious Kokstad Prison from where they will attend trial proceedings. “We will make sure that people arrested for these murders are sent to Kokstad so that they don’t see the sun again. We don’t have to wait for them to be convicted before we do that. We are confident that we will be able to successfully oppose bail in all these cases,” he said.

Cele, who declined to confirm whether politicians who have hired the hit men to kill rivals were part of the 23 suspects that had been arrested, issued a stern warning to politicians involved in the killings.

“The tide has turned and if you suspect that we need you, you better come forward. The time of doing things that you are not supposed to be doing is over. We hear that they are people who are planning to kill some managers.

“What we are saying to them is that that time is over,” he said.

The arrest of the 23 came to light following the appearance of six suspects in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday in connection with Mchunu’s murder.

A former Msunduzi Municipality councillor, Mchunu was shot several times as he pulled into his driveway in kwaPata near iMbali. At the time of his killing Mchunu was the face of the campaign by a section of ANC members in the Moses Mabhida region to expose corruption and maladministration in municipalities such as uMgungundlovu and Msunduzi.

Cele said 123 investigators from the Hawks, police intelligence, State Security Agency (SSA) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were assembled in June to hunt down political assassins in the province.

Meanwhile, KZN community safety MEC, Mxolisi Kaunda, told journalists that the provincial government was scheduled to release the Moerane Commission report on political killings in the province on Thursday next week.

On Monday, crime registrar Norman Sekhukhune told Parliament political murders happened almost exclusively in KZN, where 30 politicians had been murdered in the year under review, compared to two politicians in the Western Cape.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime statistics

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