KZN hostels a breeding ground for hit men‚ inquiry hears
Nathi Olifant | 2017-03-30 17:50:39.0
Part of the KwaMashu Hostel. File photo
Image by: Supplied
Notoriously violent KwaZulu-Natal hostels are perfect “breeding grounds” for hit men‚ giving dodgy politicians easy access to willing triggermen to carry out political assassinations.
This was one of the key observations of violence monitor and University of KwaZulu-Natal researcher Mary de Haas on the first day of the Commission of Inquiry into the Underlying Causes of the Murder of Politicians in KwaZulu-Natal‚ which started in Mayville‚ Durban‚ on Thursday.
De Haas‚ who has been investigating political violence in the province for more than three decades‚ said there was a proliferation of hit men in the province‚ most of them bred by appalling conditions – and desperation fuelled by unemployment – in hostels. This‚ she said‚ made the province fertile ground for political violence and killings.
“Hostel life is dreadful. Hostels in Durban attract a lot of people‚ for example KwaMashu Hostel attracts people from across Tugela‚ even people from the taxi industry‚” she said.
Exacerbating factors included‚ “the lack of service delivery at hostels‚ illegal evictions‚ police colluding with certain factions and‚ on top of all these things‚ is the presence of hit men”.
But this was not the only reason for political violence. She added that poor police work‚ internal party fights‚ rivalries between opposing parties and apparently growing “ethnic and tribal overtones” were also reasons for the violence.
Many of these tribal fights were born out in the hostel environment‚ as many residents come from Pondoland and the Eastern Cape‚ and were on the receiving end of a new Zulu ethnic and tribal identity.
De Haas spent almost four hours being quizzed by evidence leader Adv Bheki Manyathi on her many investigations into the causes of political violence and killings in the province.
She said there was a culture of impunity in KZN‚ and that political parties remained silent instead of taking action.
“I believe politicians should always set an example‚” she said.
De Haas added that political appointees within the police meant there was a dismal conviction rate – and countless malicious arrests.
“You sometimes feel that police rush to make an arrest just to look good because of the pressure from the public. There is ineffectiveness of police in investigating political killings. There is also a lot of political interference that impedes political killings investigations.”
De Haas said the ANC‚ in its attempt to overhaul the police service‚ fell into the trap of appointing allies.
Asked by the commissioners for recommendations‚ De Haas said the police service was a shambles.
“There needs to be deployment of police officers from national who have no history of what has happened. Not just police officers‚ but good ones who have done sterling work in other provinces‚” she said.
The R15-million commission was established by Premier Willies Mchunu in October last year.
Adv Marumo Moerane is the chairperson‚ assisted by Adv Vasu Gounden and Prof Cheryl Potgieter as commissioners‚ and Solomuzi Mdledle as secretary.
Manyathi and Michelle Andile Ngqanda have been appointed by the commission as evidence leaders.
– TMG Digital/The Times