Still no arrests in Richmond political killings - Moerane Commission hears

The Moerane Commission of Inquiry underway in Durban where the IPID and the DA have testified. (Kaveel Singh, News24)
The Moerane Commission of Inquiry underway in Durban where the IPID and the DA have testified. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Durban – Little has been done to find the killers of Richmond municipality manager Sibusiso Sithole because he opposed corruption and maladministration, the Moerane Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

ANC infighting in the province contributed to the murders of Sithole and three others in Richmond this year, DA MP Dean Macpherson testified. All the murders were apparently politically motivated.

He said Sithole was putting a halt to the ANC raising money through corruption, money that would have been used for the party's elective conference in December.

"We know there is an elective conference coming up at the end of the year. To get delegates to vote in specific ways, that costs money.

"There are few ways to raise that money. One way is through tenders. We know the corruption that takes place through the tender system. Sithole was on the other side of the faction. He was a blockage to access to that."

Sithole had suspended a senior manager for awarding a contract without putting it out to tender and was investigating the municipality’s CFO for alleged maladministration and corruption.

Sithole had applied for, and was about to take up the post of manager at the Umgeni local municipality shortly before he was killed. Macpherson said he had received many awards, including best municipal manager in KwaZulu-Natal.

Macpherson said there were individuals in Umgeni who were worried about a potential crackdown on corruption there.

"His anti-corruption views made him deeply unpopular."

'Gripped by fear'

Sithole was shot dead while getting out of his car on Victoria Street, near the Richmond police station, on Monday, March 6.

Macpherson said the killers knew the weaknesses of politicians and how to lure them out of their offices without their protection.

This suggested the murders were not random, but part of a co-ordinated plan.

He said the political killings "go up the ANC command, and they have not refuted that".

"It is always those that are not on the side of corruption that are the victims."

Macpherson said police had not made arrests in Sithole's matter.

"There has been no communication to family members. There are lots of political visits by political high-flyers, but no action."

Despite task teams being set up and interventions by the ANC's national executive, national police commissioner and minister of police, the murders of civil servants and politicians were not being solved.

"Richmond is gripped by fear and intimidation. People do not know if they will walk the street and be shot."

Advocate Mthokozisi Ngcobo, for the SAPS, asked Macpherson during cross-examination if he had written to police to ask about the progress of any murders in Richmond. He said he had not.

He said that Macpherson had formulated his own views. Macpherson said the commission sought his opinion and he was providing it. 

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu announced on October 31 last year that he was setting up the commission. It is chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane and investigating the spate of political killings in the province.

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