Two KZN ANC leaders linked to Abahlali baseMjondolo killed
One of the victims, Mthokozisi Mhlophe, who was sympathetic to the Abahlali cause, had survived two previous assassination attempts.
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The killing of members affiliated to the civil society civic organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo are far from being resolved – as two influential ANC grassroots leaders standing on opposite sides of the conflicts were mysterious murdered.
Mthokozisi Mhlophe, who led various structures of the ANC and was sympathetic to the Abahlali cause, was allegedly shot dead on Wednesday last week at his house in Mayville near the eNkanini informal settlements. Two hours before Mhlophe’s killing, S’bu Nguse, another ANC activist known to be an opponent of Abahlali, was shot dead at Cato Crest, two kilometres from Mhlophe’s home.
Mhlophe supported activists of Abahlali baseMjondolo who fought for the rights of communities to land and housing in KwaZulu-Natal and several other provinces. He had survived two previous assassination attempts. But Nguse was an opponent of Abahlali and allegedly threatened its members and was also suspected of involvement in attacks against Abahlali activists at Cato Crest and eKhenana.
Mhlophe was killed after he responded to two men who allegedly knocked at his house door at about 9pm on Wednesday. He was sitting in his house with his wife and children when two unknown men knocked at the door and his wife asked who was there. One of the men said he was Sihle from eMathinini and that he needed to speak to Mhlophe urgently.
In a statement by Abahlali’s senior leader S’bu Zikode and Mqapheli Bonono, it was said while his wife was arguing with the man, saying that it was late, Mhlophe stood up and went to open the door and was shot 13 times in his forehead in front of his wife and children. His 19-year-old son tried to defend his dad but was shot in the leg. The son was hospitalised and discharged yesterday.
“Abahlali visited the family this afternoon (Monday) after we received the call. They narrated to us the incident. They know that he had been in meetings which led to arguments, but they are too scared to talk about it, or to even say what they are suspecting,” said Zikode and Bonono.
A large number of Abahlali leaders were assassinated in mysterious shooting incidents in the Ethekwini region over the years and the attacks have continued to date. Zikode himself survived numerous assassination attempts and at some stage was forced into hiding.
But no arrests have been made in connection with the attacks against him and other Abahlali leaders in the region except an ANC councillor who was sentenced to a long jail term for the fatal shooting of an Abahlali member. Abahlali leadership were blaming the ANC in the eThekwini region for the attacks.
ANC provincial spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu could not be reached for comment and so was the eThekwini ANC regional representative. The regional executive committee led by former mayor Zandile Gumede was disbanded and therefore no spokesperson was available to answer media queries.
However, KZN-based political analyst and researcher Xolani Dube disagreed with Zikode’s allegations that the ANC alone was behind the killings.
“It would be unfair to blame only the ANC when the killings are happening due to internal and external factors,” Dube said.
He said while he could not dismiss the suggestion that the ANC could be responsible, the situation was complex as Abahlali themselves had their own internal squabbles over leadership positions and control of funding from overseas.
“There are internal and external factors behind these death, the killings should be viewed case by case. It will be unfair to only blame the ANC, we need to balance these factors, the situation there is very is very compounded and complex,” Dube said.
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