The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is of the view that those behind political killings, gender-based violence and taxi violence should be handed down the harshest jail sentences to make an example out of them in pursuit of curbing these crimes.
The party’s newly elected president, Velenkosini Hlabisa, said the IFP is “grateful” that police have arrested suspects for the murder of IFP councillor Mfanzo Nzuza, 44, who was fatally gunned down earlier this year at his home in Maphumulo, KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are hoping that they will get to the bottom of the cause of the killing. I wouldn’t want to associate it to politics. The people who were arrested do not belong to the IFP politically, they belong to another political party,” Hlabisa said, adding that that would be determined at the conclusion of investigations and court proceedings.
Hlabisa said the party hopes that police will also make an arrest for the murder of IFP councillor Mthembeni Majola, who was recently shot in Escourt in KwaZulu-Natal.
Following Majola’s murder, there was an attempt on the life of the Speaker of Okhahlamba Local Municipality Sthembiso Zulu, and about two weeks ago, IFP Uthukela District chair, councillor Mbuzeleni Mkhize survived an alleged assassination attempt.
“We are therefore calling upon the police to work tirelessly to ensure that whoever is a perpetrator of this violence must be brought to book and once arrested, severe punishment must be given,” Hlabisa said.
The scourge of political violence has plagued the province for quite some time, Hlabisa said, adding that when police make arrests in these cases, they should ensure sufficient intelligence and evidence has been gathered that would result in successful prosecution, to ensure the nation does not lose confidence in law enforcement agencies.
Hlabisa said in instances where suspects of political killings are let go due to insufficient evidence, that suggests that the police might be being used in political wars, which could give the criminals the impression that they would not be arrested.
“Therefore, the IFP says the government must ensure that the police are given retraining in terms of taking statements,” Hlabisa said.
He added: “Secondly, more resources must be provided in our security system to ensure that the visibility of police is all over in our country and thirdly, there must be special courts, dedicated courts to deal with the issue of violence, [including] political killings, violence against women and children,” Hlabisa said.
He said the prosecution of gender-based violence cases should be fast-tracked, and that those who are found guilty of such crimes should be given life sentences without the option of parole. Those accused of gender-based violence, in particular rape, should not be given bail even though the principle of innocent until proven guilty will stand.
The IFP is vocal on condemning gender-based violence, and will in the near future call on men to take the lead in addressing this scourge.
Hlabisa said the government should play a major role in curbing taxi violence, and should regulate the taxi industry and subsidise it in efforts to contain this violence.
“The government must have regulatory policies as to how many taxis an individual can have because in most cases quarrels are over [routes],” Hlabisa said, adding that the government should also regulate the number of routes a taxi owner can operate on.
He said in instances an inkabi – a hired assassin within the taxi industry – is arrested, the judiciary should make an example with such a suspect and mete out a harsh sentence, and that in hot spots of taxi hits, the police should increase their visibility.