Police Minister Bheki Cele on Wednesday 2 June 2021 shared a comprehensive briefing on political killings in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
This came after the escalation of politically-related incidents in the province in 2018, forcing President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish an interministerial committee (IMC) to address the situation.
Role of the IMC
Cele said the “mandate of this committee was quite clear from the onset”. The ministers of State Security, Defence, Justice and Correctional Services together with the police (Saps) were “tasked with ensuring the perpetrators of politically related crimes are brought to book”.
The committee’s first meeting was held on 21 May 2018, with the formation of an integrated multidisciplinary task team established in July 2018. Cele said the most recent committee meeting “concluded not to allow KZN to be a killing field”.
High-profile political killing cases
Cele cited several high-profile cases and said the task team had achieved a reasonable measure of success despite Covid-19 challenges. For instance, the case of former ANC ward councilor Qashana Mchunu will be brought before a court of law on 26 July 2021.
In addition, the murder of former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa will commence on 19 July 2021. To date, eight suspects have been arrested, of which five were charged for Magaqa’s murder.
Four suspects arrested for the murder of the executive director of Alfred Duma municipality, Oscar Hlatshwayo, will appear in court on 16 August 2021.
Furthermore, the cases of ANCYL member Wandile Ngobeni and IFP member Sibuyiselo Phineas Dlamini will also move forward, on 12 November and 22 November respectively.
Cele confirmed that two cases had been concluded:
- The four killers of EFF member Sibusiso Mbhobo were handed four life sentences each.
- The murderer of NFP member Derick Mthethwa was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 10 years.
Bheki Cele also confirmed at the media briefing the team investigated 226 dockets in the past three years with 251 arrests made. In addition, 46 suspects have been found guilty, of which 30 were convicted of murder.
“Out of 34 murder cases, nine life sentences were handed down. Twenty-two accused have had 10 to 50 years imposed on them. Twelve accused have been convicted for no more than 10 years and the remainder are going through the court processes,” Cele said
Sixty-nine case dockets “somehow linked to politically-related cases” were considered for investigation, according to Cele, “either with similar suspects or through ballistics”.