Mbalula concedes ANC shoulders some blame for political killings in Mpumalanga

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Fikile Mbalula in Mpumalanga on Wednesday.
Fikile Mbalula in Mpumalanga on Wednesday.
  • ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has called on law enforcement from other provinces to investigate political killings in Mpumalanga. 
  • His call comes after the killing of ANC councillor Sbonelo Mthembu who was shot dead with two other men on Friday at his home in Mkhondo. 
  • Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the killings after the police formed a multidisciplinary team to investigate.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has called for police in other provinces to investigate the ongoing political killings in Mpumalanga. 

On Wednesday, Mbalula visited several places in the Mkhondo Local Municipality (Piet Retief) in Mpumalanga's Gert Sibande region following the recent spate of political killings in the area.

He said the ANC must shoulder some blame for the killings and admitted that the party had been a haven for criminals in the past. 

However, the secretary-general added that the ANC should also be commended for ridding itself of criminal elements in its ranks. 

Mbalula said: "We have tolerated criminality for too long and now are ridding ourselves of the criminal elements." 

If those perpetrating the killings were connected to the police in Mpumalanga, it would be prudent to request the assistance of law enforcement officials from other provinces, he added. 

"We [the ANC] are not just sitting idle. We are also taking steps to try and address this growing pandemic. We would also encourage that police from other places be roped in to investigate just in case their criminals are being protected by local law enforcement," he said. 

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Mbalula said councillors were at the coalface of service delivery, and they should be appreciated for their work and not be victims of violence. 

He said councillors from across the political spectrum worked hard and often responded to matters outside their scope that were raised by communities, and should be thanked for their service instead of becoming victims of violence. 

"We, therefore, mourn the loss of those violently taken from us," said Mbalula. 

ANC councillor Sbonelo Mthembu was shot dead with two other men at his home in Mkhondo on Friday night. 

Mthembu's killing comes shortly after the murder of Mkhondo PR councillor Muzi Manyathi, who was gunned down at a fuel station in Piet Retief in November last year. 

READ | Cele appeals for calm, patience amid investigation into murder of ANC councillor in Mpumalanga

Mbalula said that violence was never the solution to political differences and that ANC members in particular should resort to better ways of conflict resolution. He said the political killings would only be stopped through the arrests of the kingpins behind the heinous crimes.

"The state must do its work as it is doing. We are proud of what the police minister has been doing. To the criminals, they must know that they will be pursued with the ferocity of a cornered bull and the agility of a cat," he said.

During an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the murder of Mthembu was unfortunate, and its gravity was demonstrated by the ANC sending its secretary-general and provincial and regional executive committee members to the province.

Speaking at Mthembu's home on Monday, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that a multidisciplinary team would be established to deal with the political killings in Mpumalanga. 

Former Mkhondo mayor, Vusi Motha, and local security company boss, Sifiso Sangweni, have since been arrested in connection with the murders. 

The pair were arrested on Tuesday and made their first appearance in the Mkhondo Magistrate's Court. Motha has been charged with illegally possessing an unlicensed firearm, while Sangweni allegedly breached the Private Security Regulations Act and the Firearms Control Act.

Police in Mpumalanga believe that the pair supplied the guns that were used to kill councillor Mthembu and two others. 

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