Sameera Casmod | firstname.lastname@example.org
20 September 2023 | 10:00am SAST
A wave of violence has claimed the lives of councillors in KwaZulu-Natal. With at least 19 councillors murdered since September, experts attribute these killings to a ruthless battle for political power and influence.
Mary De Haas, an expert from Violence Monitor, provided insights into this situation during an interview on Radio Islam International. She revealed that the violence is not new but has intensified in recent years. Initially, the violence was primarily intra-party, with the majority of victims belonging to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). However, convictions for these crimes have been scarce, making it challenging to discern the motives behind these killings.
De Haas explained that various motives, including corruption within municipalities and internal party factions, have contributed to the violence. Some victims, she noted, were involved in businesses such as taxi and security companies, which further complicated the motives behind their killings. Additionally, family disputes have also played a role in some cases.
One particularly alarming hotspot is Nongoma, where inter-party tensions have resurfaced in anticipation of upcoming elections. Historically, Nongoma has been fiercely contested between the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and the National Freedom Party (NFP). Recent killings in Nongoma suggest that inter-party rivalries, often referred to as “turf wars,” are fuelling the violence.
The interview also shed light on the case of a notorious ANC hitman, Juli, who targeted an Inkatha councillor that had switched allegiance to the ANC. He also allegedly killed five witnesses, but diligent detective work resulted in his arrest. However, disturbingly, the team of detectives responsible for these crucial arrests was subsequently reassigned, raising questions about potential interference in the investigations.
In response to the ongoing violence, a political killings task team was established. However, De Haas argues that it has been largely ineffective and should be dismantled. The complexities of this crisis extend beyond just political killings, involving organised crime, hitmen, and deep-rooted societal issues.
Furthermore, the policing crisis in KwaZulu-Natal exacerbates the situation. De Haas pointed out issues with Crime Intelligence, including mismanagement, lack of resources, and questionable allocations of funds. She criticised the current police minister for appointing individuals ill-suited for leadership roles within the intelligence community, leading to a dysfunctional Crime Intelligence department.
Listen to the full interview on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat: