Why politics is deadly in KZN

Sibusiso Malusi Ncengwa, the man accused of the murder of Sindiso Magaqa, abandoned his bail application at the Umzimkhulu Magistrates' Court. Picture: Mxolisi Mngadi/News24
Sibusiso Malusi Ncengwa, the man accused of the murder of Sindiso Magaqa, abandoned his bail application at the Umzimkhulu Magistrates' Court. Picture: Mxolisi Mngadi/News24

Following the murder of ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, S’thembile Cele went in search of answers to explain the bloodletting.

As the case of the accused progresses through the courts in 2019 and as we head for another election, her reporting on a province where you die for “messing with the food chain” and where killing is a “tradition that eliminates problems” is worth revisiting.

The story so far

KwaZulu-Natal saw serious violence in the run-up to the unbanning of the ANC in the late 1980s. This continued even after the watershed elections in 1994.

Recently, the death of Magaqa, once again, cast the spotlight on political killings in the province.

Magaqa was shot, along with two other ANC Umzimkhulu councillors, in July last year. He died in hospital in September.

A year later, the report of the Moerane Commission of Inquiry into the underlying causes of the murder of politicians in the province was made public.

It found, among others, that:

  • A culture of violence, with its roots in apartheid and colonialism, exists in the province.
  • Political murders tend to take place at the local level and involve “mainly councillors, potential councillors and branch leaders of political organisations”.
  • The position of councillor translates into political power “which creates the opportunity for access to resources through tenders and other financial avenues, leading to corruption, crass materialism and conspicuous consumption”.
  • There are “serious weaknesses” in the criminal justice system.
  • “There was evidence that criminal elements are recruited by politicians to achieve political ends, resulting in a complex matrix of criminal and political associations that also lead to the murder of politicians.”

An accused has appeared in court in the Magaqa case.

Why it matters

The Electoral Commission of SA told the commission that political killings have an impact on the voting public’s participation in democracy.

What our reporter found

A person kills you and simply walks back to their block. It is not a great mystery.
The closeness of the taxi industry and some politicians is why I think so many of these things can’t be traced, particularly when it comes to killings.
Other places don’t have that culture. Here, we kill people who mess with the food chain.

Read the full package here.

The second part of a two-part series on political

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July 2020

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