Four mowed down as KZN killing spree rages

Enough: Protesters may be making their despair known, but politically motivated murders have anything but slowed in the province, prompting the ANC to call for a task team to stop the killings. (Mlungisi Mbele)

Enough: Protesters may be making their despair known, but politically motivated murders have anything but slowed in the province, prompting the ANC to call for a task team to stop the killings. (Mlungisi Mbele)

Four people, two of them police officers, have been killed in a new wave of attacks related to ANC leaders in KwaZulu-Natal, barely a week after the murder of a witness in another high-profile political murder case in the province.

The killings have sparked a call from the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal to the interministerial task team probing political assassinations, which has had some success in cracking cases, to gear up its operations and prevent further carnage.

On Monday night, two Durban metro police officers, Sergeant Fanifami Dladla and Constable Sonto Mhlanga, were shot dead while guarding the house of eThekwini ward 52 councillor Boxer Zulu at Bhambayi, near Phoenix, north of Durban. The officers’ weapons were stolen in the attack, carried out by three men who fled the scene.

Zulu, who had reportedly been receiving death threats, had been granted 24-hour protection by the city. He was part of the group of councillors elected in 2016 after the change in leadership in the ANC eThekwini region the previous November.

On Tuesday night, Sbonelo Mondli Madlala, the son of Alfred Duma local municipality mayor Vincent Madlala, was shot dead along with a friend, Thembakani Malinga, in an ambush close to their family home in the Ezakheni township in Ladysmith.

Council spokesperson Siya Maphalala said the two were rushed to hospital, where they died from their wounds.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said the motives for the two killings were not clear at this stage.

Members of Madlala’s family, who are taxi operators, have in the past been involved in taxi conflicts in the area. In 2016 another of the mayor’s sons, Ndodo, was arrested and charged with murder during a taxi war with the Gamede family, which also runs taxis at Ezakheni. He was released on bail of R1 000.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Gugu Simelane-Zulu said the party was worried about the killings, which came a week after the murder of Martin Sithole, the former treasurer of the ANC’s Emalahleni region, in Newcastle.

Sithole, who was to have been a witness in the murder trial of Newcastle ANC mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba, who is charged with murdering Emalahleni ANC Youth League leader Wandile Ngubeni in 2016, was gunned down on May  13 along with a friend, Buthanani Shange.

“We are worried about these killings. Our worry in that area [Ladysmith] is in relation to the violence that has been going on for a number of years.

The leadership has been trying to deal with it, but there are continuous problems,” she said.

Simelane-Zulu said that another of Madlala’s sons had been shot at two years ago and one of his friends had been killed.

“We were very happy when the IMTT [interministerial task team probing political assassinations] came in and there were some arrests. We appreciate the work being done, but I think they need to go beyond that now.”

She said the police had been successful against cash-in-transit robbers in the province because of intelligence-driven operations, which had targeted the paymasters and the planners behind the robberies.

“The same strategy should be applied here so that we don’t always have to be trying to look for killers, rather than trying to stop the killings from taking place,” she said.

On Tuesday, three of the men accused of murdering the former ANC Youth League secretary general and an Umzimkhulu ANC councillor, Sindiso Magaqa, were denied bail in the Umzimkhulu regional court.

The three, Sibonelo Myeza, Mbulelo Mpofana and Mxolisi Ncalane, will remain in custody until they appear in court again on May 31, when their case will be joined with that of two other men accused of the murder.

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