Concerns have been raised that there could be a possible resurgence of political killings in KwaZulu-Natal after Minister of Police Bheki Cele announced they were investigating eight possible instances of politically-related deaths.
“I thought this province has gone past these things. By looking at the figures, in May and June, eight people have been murdered in suspected political killings,” Cele said on Thursday.
He was speaking in Umlazi at the home of slain ward 84 councillor Bhekithemba Phungula, who was also an ANC branch chairperson.
Phungula died in a hail of bullets fired by unknown assailants at his home in eNgonyameni, south of Durban, on Tuesday evening.
Cele said they were yet to confirm the motive.
“I am saying so because we are investigating. We expect the special political investigating team to tell us what’s the story. This case [Phungula] has also been handed over to them.”
He added: “We hope to stop this with immediate effect. To stop this, would be to find out who did it, and why they did it.”
Cele said that President Cyril Ramaphosa was also concerned about the killings.
“As I was requesting the permission from the president to leave the national command council to come here, he did make the comment to say it [political killings] has started fresh again in KZN. Those are not nice words when you begin to be known that way.”
He said they hoped to get information from the Umlazi community about who could possibly have killed Phungula.
“So, we have listened, visited family, and there are some issues here. I have spoken to people here, especially women, to say anybody with information should take it to police. We believe then that we will be able to deal with these matters.”
Commenting on the upcoming 2021 local government elections and if he anticipated violence during the run-up to it, Cele said he hoped not.
He added: “The investigations will tell us that. We hope it is not that, and hope it is not so. The time must come when elections are elections and not murder times. I agree with you we have seen that before, but if we work hard and faster… it is something we want to stop, and it should not happen.”
Cele also touched on gender-based violence said he noted the recent deaths of women in KZN.
“We believe we will be able to deal with gender-based violence in the province. We have about four serious cases. It looks like people are killed by those they know. That is one difficult portion of this gender-based violence.”