Phillip Makhanyela, ally of activist Thabiso Zulu, gunned down

Phillip Makhanyela (seated behind), Thabiso Zulu and Thami Mbeje.
Phillip Makhanyela (seated behind), Thabiso Zulu and Thami Mbeje.

An ANC activist in Pietermaritzburg who is a close ally of beleaguered whistleblower Thabiso Zulu was gunned down in Haniville on Tuesday evening in what is suspected to be a hit over his role in the fight against housing corruption in the area.

Phillip Madoda Makhanyela (56) was gunned down on Thokoza Road not far from his house.

His brother, Muzomuhle, said Makhanyela was heard shouting at unknown people shortly before he was gunned down.

“He was asking them why they wanted to kill him,” said Muzomuhle.

Phillip Makhanyela died after being shot four times by the gunmen, who made off with his white Ford Bantam.

The shooting happened a few minutes after there had been a power outage in the area. “Because it was too dark people who witnessed the shooting could not see the attackers properly,” said Muzomuhle.

A member of the local housing steering committee, Phillip Makhanyela was among ward 27 residents who had been trying to expose corruption in the allocation of municipal houses. In 2018 his name featured on a hit list that had been circulating in the area.

“He used to tell us that they were people who were trailing him and who wanted to see him dead. Things would be quiet for a few months and then again he would tell us that the death threats have started. As a family we always have been concerned about his safety,” said Muzomuhle.

Phillip Makhanyela was gunned down on the same road where Zulu, whose name had also featured on hit lists in the area, was shot at a few months ago.

Zulu, who is facing criminal charges after being arrested in connection with a protest that took place in Copesville last week, said there was a pattern in the shooting of activists in the area.

“The shootings always take place a few days after a protest against corruption.

“We are of the view that the attacks are designed to silence those who are at the forefront of the fight against corruption,” he said.

Zulu was a close ally of slain ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, was gunned down in uMzimkhulu in 2017.

He is well known for exposing government corruption within the province. Despite assassination attempts on him, government has yet to provide Zulu with protection, years after he requested the police ministry to provide him with security.

“Phillip and I were very close and we worked together in the fight against corruption. When we say our lives are under threat some people think we are just making up things, but the reality is that powerful forces are out to eliminate us,” Zulu said.

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