The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership wants a heightened police presence in areas it has identified as hotspots to try to prevent a further escalation of political violence linked to the party’s candidates list process for local government elections.
The party will also postpone political activities in high-conflict areas where threats of attack are detected, after the killing of three women in a drive-by shooting at an ANC community meeting in Inanda’s Newtown C in north Durban on Saturday night.
Five other people were injured in the attack on the meeting at the Buhlebethu Primary School, called with the community in the area to elect an ANC ward candidate for the vote scheduled for 1 November.
The shootings — and other lower key incidents of violence at ANC branch meetings around the province over the weekend — have sparked fears of a repeat of the wave of killings that took place before and during the ANC candidate election process in the province in 2016.
ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson and Premier Sihle Zikalala described the killings as “barbarous” and the actions of “thuggish elements”, who had no place in the party.
Zikalala told the media shortly after visiting the families of the three victims, that the party had been surprised by the shooting, despite the tensions within the ANC over the local government candidates list process.
“More than 95% of the wards that are expected to select candidates have been completed. All along everything has been normal, although in some areas there have been tensions, but those tensions have been within the confines of the movement,”’ Zikalala said.
“Mostly, what we have seen were appeals, where members went to the provincial list committee. Yes, in instances there were marches to the office, but we never expected that in the voting process of the ANC there [would] be someone who [would[ come and shoot and kill people like this.”
The KZN premier said the ANC had been working to identify areas that were hotspots in terms of “contestation within the movement” and in terms of “inter-party”, conflict and to ensure that the South African Police Service (SAPS) was “fully briefed” on the situation.
In areas of “serious campaigning” or other political activities identified as contentious, the police would be expected to be “more visible” and ensure that gatherings were protected.
The party also wanted its members to provide information about any potential threat in advance so that “we will not go on with activities where there is a potential threat or danger”, Zikalala added.
Other incidents of violence were reported in ward 15 and ward 43 in eThekwini and in several wards in Pietermaritzburg.
According to the SAPS, the three victims at Inanda died from injuries they sustained in the shooting and in the subsequent stampede as people tried to flee from the shooters. Five other people were injured in the shooting.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said police were investigating three murder and five attempted murder charges.
No arrests had been made by the time of writing.