Many believe the Glebelands violence is driven by corruption, particularly involving construction tenders and unit allocation. The vast majority of residents killed were targeted because they opposed the ward councilor’s alleged corruption and nepotism.
Late last year, seven of Glebelands most notorious ‘hitmen’ – including the hostel’s rogue cop – were arrested and charged with 19 counts of murder, attempted murder, racketeering, extortion and possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition. Elitsha has been tracking the ‘Glebelands 7’ progress through the criminal justice system. This is Part 2.
Tshepo Hlambelo, a former Glebelands resident who claimed he was tortured by POP Unit members of the SAPS in 2014 after he was violently evicted from his hostel room by thugs and hitmen, eventually fled to his home in the rural areas near Bizana after he continued receiving death threats. He went missing on 14 Dec 2017.
In December 2017 Glebelands rogue cop, the detective from Durban Central SAPS, Sgt Bhekukwazi Mdweshu and 6 other alleged hitmen were arrested and charged with 19 counts of murder, attempted murder, possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition as well us under the Riotous Assemblies Act for conspiring to eliminate Glebelands residents. They have become known as the Glebelands 7. Two of the 7 are also charged with other Glebelands murder cases, of which one was recently sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Glebelands grandmother in 2017. Bail applications for the remaining 5 are ongoing.
The Moerane Commission concluded its work on 18 March and has until the end of April to submit its report and recommendations to the Premier, Willies Mchunu. After that it will be tabled for discussion at provincial level, go back to the Commission for final amendments, and only after that, it might be made public. The Premier’s office initially stated that it would not release the report, then it stated that “no decision not to release the report has been made” following a public outcry.
Recently staff at the eThekwini Municipality bus depots reported that around 80% of the service had been rerouted – free of charge (ie at ratepayers expense) – to transport Jacob Zuma’s supporters to his latest court appearance. This left commuters stranded all over Durban. It was especially hard for poor people who had already charged their prepaid Muvo cards and were forced to suddenly find extra cash for alternative transport.
Provincial SAPS leadership testified at the Moerane Commission last week. Evidence leader, Adv Manyathi presented them with 31pages of witnesses’ allegations against them ranging from negligence to actual criminal involvement in a number of killings in KZN. One of the former Umlazi Cluster Commanders, Maj Gen Chiliza lied under oath. He wasn’t alone; the other 5 senior commanders also backed him, but Chiliza’s testimony was particularly shocking. He claimed to be unaware that Sipho Ndovela and many of the other Glebelands leaders killed had been receiving threats and were in danger. I have evidence in the form of emails, screenshots of Whatsapp conversations etc that prove he lied.
On 17 January, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and the new National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khehla Sithole announced crime intelligence boss, Richard Mdluli, had finally been relieved of his duties. Since his suspension seven years ago, he has reportedly earned around R8-million and persistently meddled in affairs of the state. He will retire with full benefits and apparent impunity for his role in pillaging a Crime Intelligence secret slush fund. Mdluli has been widely blamed for the downfall of, amongst others, the former Hawks head Anwar Dramat, former NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, and Gauteng corruption-buster, former Major General Shadrack Sibiya. But he has thousands of lesser-known victims – collateral damage along the road to ‘a better life’ for some.
Two Glebelands residents and employees of the politically connected private security company, Secureco METSU, contracted by the eThekwini Municipality to provide security at the hostel, have been implicated in at least 7 Glebelands murders and a further 3 attempted murders – Sivuyile Luna, whose trial for the murder of a Glebelands woman in Jan 2017, was remanded to February this year and Bongani Mbhele, for whom police recently issued a ‘wanted’ statement. Luna was a Block 52 resident while employed to undertake armed patrols at the hostel. Mbhele has been employed by Fidelity (Secureco’s holding company) since at least 2011, and although he did not perform guarding duties at the hostel, he is believed to have murdered at least 5 people by the time he was first arrested (and later released) in September 2015.
The criminal justice system is quick to blame its abysmal conviction rate of Glebelands suspects on reluctant witnesses. While this is indeed a contributing factor – and for good reason – the whole story is not being told.