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KwaZulu-Natal teeters on the brink of crisis, with a shocking toll of 19 KZN councillors shot dead since September

Annisa Essack |
20 September 2023 | 14:00 CAT

2 min read

Photo Credit: Business Live

KwaZulu-Natal has been plagued by recent violence and political assassinations. At least 19 councillors have been killed since September, causing a dark cloud to loom over the region. What drives this deadly phenomenon, and why is KwaZulu-Natal experiencing such a harrowing spate of killings?

Dr Mary De Haas, an expert on violence monitoring, joined Radio Islam International to discuss the dire situation unfolding in the province. She revealed that only two councillors remain unharmed in Nongoma, which has left service delivery in a state of paralysis. Sadly, this is not an isolated occurrence but part of a broader pattern. Over the past decade, more than 150 politicians have fallen victim to violence, predominantly driven by power struggles, political ambitions, and financial interests.

De Haas shed some light on the multifaceted nature of these killings. Historically, the province has been plagued by a culture of violence dating back to the turbulent 1980s and 1990s. The trauma and violence experienced during this period have left lasting scars on the region’s collective consciousness.

The violence has not been limited to a single political party; it has penetrated across party lines. Intra-party tensions have often been a driving force behind these killings, and convictions have been rare, further complicating efforts to ascertain motives.

Nongoma, a town in KwaZulu-Natal, has become a focal point for interparty tensions, primarily as South Africa’s next elections draw near. The rivalry between the African National Congress (ANC) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has historically made Nongoma a contested area. Recent killings in Nongoma suggest a resurgence of interparty violence, with turf wars and political rivalry taking centre stage.

KwaZulu-Natal’s unique historical context has contributed to the intensity of this violence. The province has been a battleground for political opposition to the ANC, leading to a heightened state of political tension. The legacy of past violence has left many unresolved grievances, exacerbating the situation.

Additionally, KwaZulu-Natal has a notorious reputation for being the birthplace of many hitmen, often associated with the taxi industry. These hitmen, some with connections to the government, have fuelled a culture of violence and crime. The overlap between politicians, taxi bosses, and security companies has further complicated matters.

Dr De Haas pointed out critical deficiencies in policing and intelligence services. Crime intelligence in KwaZulu-Natal is in disarray, with mismanagement and budgetary issues hindering effective law enforcement. A severe lack of resources, from vehicles to informants’ payments, exacerbates the crisis.

In addition to these internal issues, the police minister’s actions have been scrutinised. Political appointments and the redirection of funds have further eroded the effectiveness of crime intelligence.

The situation in KwaZulu-Natal is a distressing reminder of South Africa’s challenges in its path to stability and security. Political killings and violence persist, and urgent action must address the root causes. Reconciliation efforts, healing programs, and overhauling policing and intelligence services are essential to restoring peace to this beautiful province.

As KwaZulu-Natal grapples with this crisis, the nation and the world watch with concern, hoping for a resolution to end the violence and pave the way for a brighter future.

Sulaimaan Ravat delved into this alarming trend on his show, Sabahul Muslim, with violence monitor Dr Mary de Haas. Listen to the full interview here.


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