THE brutal killing of councillors in KwaZulu-Natal continues unabated with Bhekithemba Phungula the latest victim to be killed in what appears to be a politically linked hit.
Phungula was an ANC councillor under the eThekwini municipality serving the city’s ward 84. It is alleged that the deceased was ambushed on Tuesday night while at his home in eNgonyameni reserve near Umlazi township.
His killing brings to eight the number of councillors who have been wiped out through the barrel of a gun in the province this year alone.
Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, provincial police spokesperson confirmed the incident, saying no arrests had been effected.
“Preliminary investigations indicates that the 64-year-old deceased was killed on Tuesday night by unknown assailants who fled on foot. No arrests has been made but police are following leads, we are also urging members of the public who might have information to come forward,” said Mbhele.
The gunmen allegedly fired more than 15 shots at the deceased, who died instantly.
Last month, Phillip Mkwanazi, ANC councillor under the uMtubatuba local municipality on the province’s north coast was also killed in a similar fashion.
His death was followed by the murder of ANC Youth league leader in eThekwini region, Kingdom Gcabashe.
He was also cornered by assassins in Hammarsdale township and shot to death.
In the same month, IFP councillor under the King Cetshwayo district Thengezake Maphanga was also killed.
The commonality in the murders is that no arrests has been effected.
Xolani Dube, KZN based political analyst and senior researcher at Xubera Research Institute and Development said a feud over tenders was the key driver in the killings.
“It is high time that the tendering system be scrapped because it’s contributing in these murders. There is also a greater need to rekindle the ethos of public service where councillors are driven by a desire to assist communities instead of self-serving,” said Dube.
Provincial ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu said the ruling party was concerned at the lowest conviction rate and arrests of those responsible for killing politicians.
“We view this killing as a cowardly act and we are concerned that investigations by law enforcement agencies is failing to yield any positive results. Apart from the deceased being a councillor, he was a bread winner. The killers did not murder a politician, but robbed a family of a brother and a father,” said Mthembu.
KwaZulu-Natal is considered the hotbed of political assassinations in the country.
The seriousness of the situation prompted then Premier Willies Mchunu to establish a commission of inquiry hoping that it would shed light as to what are the factors fuelling the scourge of political murders. Four years on after the sitting of the commission, nothing worthwhile has come out as a remedy to bring an end to these brutal acts.
In it 426 pages report, the Commission noted that “ Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” saying had Shakespeare lived in KZN between the year 2011 and today, he might have had a modern day Marcellus utter those words. The Commission also noted that the never ending murder of politicians in the province was a symptom of a serious pathology in the province’s body politic.
(Compiled by Inside Politics staff)