There is no #KZN3rdForce – it’s all political

Former ANCYL General Secretary and PR Councillor at Umzimkhulu Municipality, Sindiso Magqa was ambushed in July.

Researcher and writer Vanessa Burger, who testified at the Moerane Commission on the violence wracking Glebelands hostel, writes that the hitman who shot Sindiso Magaqa in July can be traced to Glebelands.

Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC is eating itself and anyone who disturbs the feeding frenzy risks assassination. Whether it is control of a popular taxi route, competition for a lucrative government tender, or contestation for political positions: if you are perceived as an obstacle – BANG – you’re dead. The KZN ANC has become a criminal syndicate where the rule of the gun has replaced the rule of law and human life has little value.

Sindiso Magaqa, former ANCYL secretary-general, councilor and executive member of the Umzimkhulu municipality died in Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital on Monday. Some claim he was poisoned. Magaqa had apparently been recovering well from the multiple gunshot wounds he had sustained on 13 July, when he and 2 friends – also local political leaders – were ambushed at Ibisi village near Umzimkhulu. Their vehicle had been sprayed with automatic gunfire. Someone had clearly wanted Magaqa very dead very badly.

ANC provincial leaders have since exploited this tragedy to deflect attention from its moral meltdown. Provincial ANC secretary, Super Zuma, claimed, “[These] killings are well planned, carefully executed by highly trained individuals, and they are meant to destabilise South Africa, and the entry point is KZN.” At an ANC media briefing on Thursday, he suggested that the province’s political killings could be the work of a sinister “sponsored… third force.”

The ANC has taken great pains to discriminate between members allegedly killed purely for political motives, and those murdered for other reasons. But they are equally keen to conceal the role of an increasingly toxic political climate in the lead up to the current bloodbath. The president cannot subvert the Constitution and populate law enforcement agencies with supporters to fight his factional battles and cover up his and his family and friends’ corruption, without the resulting thuggery seeping through every facet of society. Yet despite the rising number of councilors murdered in KZN, these ‘political killings’ are nowhere on the scale of the Glebelands-related slaughter where 78 of the 93 people believed to have been executed by hostel hitmen were residents – a slaughter which the SAPS remains desperate to write off as “just crime.”

But the parallels between Magaqa and Glebelands persist as a ghastly reminder of what happens when cancer is not treated in its early stages.

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POLITICAL CONNECTIONS

A few weeks before the attack on Magaqa, collections began at 14 of Glebelands’s 71 blocks under thug control. Each resident was forced – often at gunpoint or under threat of eviction – to ‘donate’ R50 to individuals nominated by thugs, netting well over R220,000 from the poor and unemployed. Several independent sources alleged that the deputy chairperson of the Glebelands ANC branch met a handful of hitmen and those coordinating the collections on 5 or 6 July. The same day the collections were concluded – Sunday 9 July – two hitmen reportedly left Glebelands for Umzimkhulu. Four days later, Magaqa and his two friends were ambushed.

With the tacit (or seemingly otherwise) support of certain regional and provincial ANC leaders, Glebelands’s ward councilor and the Branch Executive Committee, together with a rogue cop and his politically connected Block 52 warlord-hijacker buddy, since deceased, have long been fingered by the community as the main drivers behind the hostel violence. Police have confirmed the involvement of Glebelands hitmen in the assassination of at least 8 ANC councilors and political activists from Durban to southern KZN.

STATE GUNS

While Glebelands collections unfailingly lead to someone’s death, it is unlikely this money paid Magaqa’s would-be assassins. But hitmen need money for the tools of their trade. Police confirmed Magaqa’s attackers “used an R1 rifle and a pistol.” Glebelands hitmen have used state-issue firearms in murders such as that of a peace committee member, Nkosinathi Shezi, on 7 November 2016, and the R4 recently recovered at Folweni with enough ammunition to liquidate an entire Glebelands block, is suspected to be the same rifle of which the Moerane Commission heard testimony. The KZN SAPS seems reluctant to acknowledge the relevance of the increased prevalence of government guns in the contract killings, the penalty for possession of which can lead to a 25-year jail term. Alleged investigations into the alleged disappearance of a vast number of guns from – surprise surprise – Durban Central SAPS a couple of years ago, seem to have vaporized along with the ANC’s commitment to justice.

Hostel sources since claimed to recognize Magaqa’s attackers from police identikits circulated by the Hawks. They alleged the suspects had not returned to their Block 48 rooms for some time – certainly not since the Umzimkhulu incident. But hitmen often use several rooms to avoid police detection.

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R4 bullet holes riddle a Glebelands leader’s vehicle. This state-issue firearm was allegedly bought for R9,000 in 2014 by a rogue cop with money extorted from hostel residents. Pic by Vanessa Burger

On 26 August rumours surfaced that police had paid a visit to a Block 46 peace committee member. This man was believed to have been a loyal supporter of the late hostel warlord and closely connected to currently active hitmen. Community sources suspected that if the Block 46 man had not actually been the triggerman, his Umzimkhulu origin and network of criminal contacts strongly suggested a coordinating role. But nothing could be confirmed.

PRIVATE SECURITY      

And the parallels between #KZNAnarchy and Glebelands do not end with Magaqa’s death. On Thursday, a video of two of KZN ANC regional secretary, Bheki Ntuli’s bodyguards hit the headlines. Recorded for posterity, the video shows the men cocking an AK47, handguns and issuing threats. These bodyguards have reportedly since been fired. It seems no one thought to lay criminal charges. In terms of the Firearms Control Act, Ntuli and anyone else who can identify the AK47-toting bodyguard and fails to report the matter to the police, could be criminally charged. But let’s not hold our breath.

There is also another disturbing aspect to this. In this instance the ANC swiftly distanced itself from its rogue bodyguards, their employers fired them and opposition parties are now apparently demanding the security company’s government contract be revoked.

But at Glebelands, private security company Secureco METSU employees went way beyond waving guns around and making threats – they actually killed 7 people, one of whom was a young woman with children. Yet no one called for these guards’ suspension, or for Secureco METSU’s contract to be revoked, or questioned the company’s security vetting process. Instead, the ANC-led eThekwini Municipality congratulated themselves on the “effective” roll out of hostel ‘security measures’ and promptly announced bigger budgets for more of the same.

So it does not take a rocket scientist, commission of inquiry, or dozens of specialized task teams, to see what is wrong with this picture. And why should any self-respecting ‘third force’ try to ‘destabilise’ our country, when our political leaders have already made such a damn fine job of it? There is no #KZN3rdForce, only the criminal syndicate the ANC has become.

 

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