Newcastle deputy mayor Musa “Sugar” Thwala survived an assassination attempt on Monday evening.
Thwala had just arrived at his home at around 7 pm when unknown men opened fire on him.
He was not hit, but one of his bodyguards was killed during the attack while another was hit in the arm.
Thwala is the founder and leader of Team Sugar SA, which is in co-governance with the IFP in the Amajuba District Municipality. He is also the chairperson of the technical services portfolio committee at the municipality.
‘Marked for death’
DA constituency head Dr Imran Keeka said it was shocking that people were still “marked for death” because of their political affiliation.
“This attack was politically motivated. Political killings have re-emerged in the province. We have had the Moerane Commission looking into political killings in the province, yet the provincial government has not implemented the recommendations of the commission. We have two of our own councillors who have received death threats recently and the matter was reported to the authorities,” said Keeka.
He said a threat analysis into the two councillors was underway. “The new governance structure in Newcastle has caused a lot of upset here because there are contracts (tenders) that had to be put on hold after it was found that the supply chain management regulations were not followed. That has put people’s lives at risk,” he said.
One of the two councillors who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals said she was once a victim of threats on her life for her role in the party, and the threats were coming from political opponents. She said she received a threatening message from an unknown number in November 2021.
“I reported the matter to the police who followed up all the leads and the matter was later closed. I was told the docket will be re-opened if new leads are received. When the number was finally traced… it was picked up in Katlehong and the man using it was also shocked to hear that the number was used to send messages threatening me.
“The provincial government doesn’t seem to take political violence seriously. The commission made some recommendations which are yet to be implemented,” said the councillor.
Attempts to get comment from Thwala or his bodyguard were unsuccessful. Some of the recommendations of the Moerane Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of political figures in the province were that political parties must take responsibility for the violent competition between their members for political positions and power.
‘Peaceful political competition’
It further recommended that political parties needed to urgently educate their members about democratic practices, especially the universal practice of peaceful political competition as opposed to political intolerance and violent political competition.
Political parties must discipline their members whose conduct encourages or results in political intolerance and violence and where their members are involved in or are accomplices to killings, they must report these members to the relevant law enforcement authorities.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the shooting happened in section 6 in Emadadeni at about 6:30 pm. He said Thwala’s security guards noticed a vehicle parked near a shopping centre. The occupants of the vehicle allegedly attacked the security guards, injuring two.
“One of the suspects was also injured in the altercation. The two security guards and the suspect were transported to a local hospital to receive medical attention. The motive for the attack is unknown at this stage. Police in Newcastle are investigating the incident,” said Naicker.
He said the complainant alleged that on November 16 she received a threatening message from an unknown suspect.
A case of intimidation was opened at that Newcastle Police Station for investigation. The docket was closed, but would be reopened if there is new evidence, he added.
Moerane Report ‘hallucinations’
Provincial government spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the “hallucinations” that have been bandied about in the public space regarding the Moerane Report not having been acted on by the provincial government is devoid of truth or fact.
“We understand them when they are emanating from opposition parties, however, it deeply concerns us when the media, who are supposed to be public watchdogs, choose to distort information and indirectly promote a propaganda narrative without any shred of evidence or any effort to establish the facts.
“Today, we are inundated with media enquiries following the latest assassination attempts on some councillors in eThekwini and Newcastle.
“These incidents are deeply concerning and are being acted on by the law enforcement agencies,” said Mabaso.
Mabaso said it was evident from the remedial actions that the province’s key task was to bring the outcomes of the report to relevant agencies and organs of state for them to use in dealing with the underlying causes and monitor implementation.