Councillor’s arrest lays bare ANC region divide

Musawenkosi Mchunu who was killed outside his home in Kwa Pata last Friday evening

The councillor and a son of one of the senior councillor at uMgungundlovu District were part of the six suspects who appeared at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday for the murder of the ANC activist Msawenkosi Maqatha Mchunu Mchunu who was gunned down in May this year.
Amongst those present in court were Sandile Dlamini, Thulani Xulu, Siyabonga Hlongwa and Mtuza Mkhize, who have been vocal in the criticism of corruption and nepotism at both the local and district municipalities.
Hlongwa said they were glad to see some action from the police following the arrests. “We have been saying for a while that the killing of our comrades in Moses Mabhida appears to be the work from within. We just hope that justice will be served in the end because Maqatha did not deserve to die, but because he had been one of the vocal critics of the problems in the municipality, his life was threatened,” said Hlongwa.
Mchunu, the Ward 10 ANC branch convenor, was killed while exiting his vehicle at his home at KwaPata in May 11 and his killing sent shockwaves in the region and KZN. Ramaphosa was one of the leaders who visited the family following the killing.
The six suspects were arrested during a swoop made by the special police task team probing political murders in KZN.
State prosecutor Rene Padaychee told the court that the state intended to oppose bail as the accused’s profiles and details needed to be verified. The atmosphere was highly charged and everyone wanted to be in the courtroom. Mkhize constantly appealed for calm from the crowd. “Let us demonstrate discipline and provide support to the family,” said Mkhize to the crowd.
The arrests follow nearly three months since Advocate Marumo Moerane presented the report of the Moerane Commission into political killings to KZN Premier Willies Mchunu. The commission was established in 2016 to probe a spate of politically related murders in KZN. Mchunu’s killing was suspected to be politically motivated because he had emerged a strong critic of alleged wrongdoing at Msunduzi Municipality and uMgungundlovu District.
Outside the court, people could be seen waving banners of the ANC and South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco), the two organisations in which Mchunu was an activist.
The suspects did not plead and the matter was postponed to September 20 for a formal bail application.
ANC spokesperson, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, said the ruling party believes in the rule of law and has confidence in the criminal justice system. “Whilst the principle of innocent-until-proven-guilty is acknowledged in a democratic society such as ours, the ANC believes that the allegations are extremely serious and deserves our special attention. This is informed by the fact the province of KwaZulu Natal has experienced the killing of politicians and with many of our comrades becoming victims,” said the Simelane-Zulu.
She added that the ANC supports all efforts of law enforcement agencies aimed at getting into the root cause of these killings and were hopeful that the justice system will do its work independently and with speed. “Finalizing this matter quickly will allow the ANC to start its internal disciplinary process in order to send a strong message, where it’s necessary,” she concluded.
The suspects did not plead and the matter was postponed to September 20 for a formal bail application.

  AUTHOR
Capital Media Reporter

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