Umzimkhulu killings linked to notorious Glebelands Hostel, witness testifies
The recent spate of killings plaguing KwaZulu-Natal’s volatile Umzimkhulu region — including the attempt on former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa’s life last week — can all be traced back to Durban’s notorious Glebelands Hostel‚ the Moerane commission heard on Monday.
This bombshell was dropped by expert witness Vanessa Burger of the Independent Community Activist for Human Rights and Social Justice, an advocacy group.
The commission is tasked with understanding the causes and possible solutions to ongoing political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking under oath at the hearings in Durban‚ Burger said she had it on good authority that large amounts of money were recently collected in order to pay a hit man to carry out killings in Umzimkhulu. The amount was unspecified.
Evidence leader Bheki Manyathi asked Burger whether she regarded the attempted murder of Magaqa last Thursday as one of those hits‚ to which Burger simply said‚ "Yes."
"The hit man was paid and he is still in Umzimkhulu. The three that were shot in Umzimkhulu [between April and last week] were killed by the same hit man‚" she said.
Burger said the weapon used was a state-issued R1 firearm.
Former ANC Youth League secretary-general Magaqa‚ now a councillor‚ and two of his colleagues‚ ward 11 councillor Nonsikelelo Mafa and ward 16 councillor Jabu Mzizi‚ were attacked by unknown gunmen‚ landing them in hospital. They became the fourth‚ fifth and sixth victims of violence in the area in recent months.
ANC regional deputy secretary and Umzimkhulu municipality speaker Khaya Thobela was the first to be gunned down‚ shot on April 20 while arriving at his home in Mfundweni. He died in hospital three days later.
Next was former Harry Gwala district municipality councillor and ANC branch leader Khaya Mgcwaba‚ who was shot and killed on May 11.
Twelve days later‚ on May 23‚ Mduduzi Tshivase‚ a teacher and Harry Gwala municipality councillor‚ was also gunned down.
A special task team has been set up to investigate the series of murders and attempted murders.
Burger told the commission on Monday that when there was a big cash collection‚ a murder usually followed.
She said it was initially suspected that the recent collection was geared towards a fresh hit at Glebelands‚ but she soon learnt that this was paid to a hit man who was now terrorising Umzimkhulu.
Burger was also attempting to draw the commission’s attention to the fact that many of the hit men infesting the hostel were using guns for hire employed to carry out political killings and an assorted other number of hits.
Burger‚ a graphic designer by profession‚ also circulated an illustration of the hostel murders and how they have spread and spilled outside Glebelands.
In all likelihood‚ she said political and other murders on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast and in parts of the Eastern Cape‚ could be traced back to Glebelands hit men.
She painted a grim picture of a settlement languishing under a dark spell of murders.
Glebelands Hostel is in Umlazi‚ south of Durban.
The R15m Moerane commission of inquiry‚ which is investigating the "underlying causes of the murder of politicians in KwaZulu-Natal"‚ was set up by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu in October last year and began its work in March.