Zikalala death threat probe

2018-05-29 17:17
A file picture of Sihle Zikalala (centre) with Meshack Radebe (left) and Kwazi Mshengu (right) outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

A file picture of Sihle Zikalala (centre) with Meshack Radebe (left) and Kwazi Mshengu (right) outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court. (Jabulani Langa)

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As political killings threaten to plunge the province into turmoil, police have confirmed they are investigating claims that ANC KwaZulu-Natal co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala’s life is under threat.

According to KZN police, Zikalala, who is also the Economic Development MEC, opened a case in Durban after a hitman allegedly told the ANC leader over the phone that he had been hired to assassinate him.

“The suspect then demanded that the complainant should pay him R10 000 so that he does not go ahead with the instruction he had been given to harm the complainant and members of his family,” said KZN police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele.

The docket, Mbhele said, had since been handed over to the task team set up to investigate political violence in the province.

The probe takes place as a wave of killings involving political figures grips the province, with at least six deaths in recent weeks being blamed on political violence.

While the Moerane commission — which has been probing political killings in the province — is yet to release its findings, some have blamed the killings on the fight for government tenders, internal power battles and political rivalry.

Zikalala, who led an ANC faction in the province that supported former AU chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in last year’s ruling party presidential race that she lost to Cyril Ramaphosa, is widely viewed as the face of former president Jacob Zuma’s camp in KZN.

The camp is currently embroiled in a bitter power struggle with Ramaphosa supporters in the province.

While the about 30 political figures who have been killed in the province since 2016 include members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and National Freedom Party (NFP), the majority were ANC members. Some ANC leaders had denied the killing of ruling party figures in the province was linked to the power struggles between the Zuma and Ramaphosa camps.

However, the Mkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Associations (MKMVA) on Monday said the lack of an internal security arm in the party made it difficult to point to the source of the violence.

“During the liberation struggle days we had the Imbokodo unit that was responsible for vetting all new ANC recruits as well as investigating any possible security threats within the party.

“The mistake we made was to disband the Imbokodo unit, with the result being that there is no longer any capacity in the party to identify threats and secure party members,” said MKMVA provincial chairperson Themba Mavundla.

The killings have since resulted in the establishment of a task team drawn from members of the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) police intelligence and State Security Agency (SSA).

Two weeks ago Ramaphosa announced an inter-ministerial committee comprising ministers from the security cluster to look into the political killings in the province.

The new efforts in quelling the killings last week saw investigators foil a plot to assassinate Endumeni Municipality Speaker Bongiwe Mbatha-Makhathini.

Endumeni Mayor Sibonisa Mbatha, alongside two other people, has been arrested in connection with the plot to assassinate Mbatha-Makhathini.

However, despite the early success of the interventions, Mavundla is not convinced the task team would address the killing of ANC members in the province.

“The problem is that all these investigators would be operating from outside. People who understand the ANC would tell you how difficult it is for a structure outside the ANC to operate within the party.

“Our view is that only a structure within the ANC can be able to investigate the matter and eliminate the security threats currently facing both our members and leaders,” he said.

Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele on Monday announced that the inter-ministerial task will brief Ramaphosa on Thursday on the killings.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  political killings

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