Durban – The ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal has made a call for the revival of the ANC’s defunct self-defence units (SDUs) to protect party leaders from escalating political murders.
ANCYL provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo told The Mercury that the league would present the proposal for SDUs at the ANC’s provincial general council (PGC), which is being held on Monday and Tuesday in Durban.
“We are going to raise this in the PGC first thing today,” said Sabelo.
However, ANC leaders, KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas and the IFP have all rejected the idea of arming young people.
Sabelo told thousands of mourners in Howick, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, on Saturday that young people should be recruited to join the SDUs and also be trained to handle firearms.
He was a keynote speaker at the funeral of Sthembiso Mhlongo, an ANC councillor and ANCYL deputy secretary at Moses Mabhida Region.
Mhlongo was shot on November23 by unknown people who knocked on his door, claiming to be the police.
More than 10 ANC leaders, including former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, have been killed this year.
“Members of the units should be trained to do patrols, and be able to handle firearms so that they can defend their communities, and defend leaders,” he said.
Sabelo said it was clear the police lacked the capacity to deal with political killings in the province.
He said young people in general and beyond political affiliations should be welcomed to join the units.
Sabelo added that the units should operate in the form of neighbourhood watches, using WhatsApp groups.
The SDUs and IFP-aligned self-protection units were rivals associated with political violence that claimed thousands of lives between the late 1980s and early 1990s in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Sabelo said young people who had criminal motives should be prevented from joining the units.
ANC deputy provincial secretary Mluleki Ndobe said the party would welcome any way to deal with political murders, but he said arming communities was out of the question.
“We agree that there should be tight security measures in communities. “It is not ANC policy to train civilians to handle firearms because there are law enforcement agencies,” he said.
When approached about this, De Haas said: “No, no, no.”
“Of course not because violence breeds violence. No more arms because we have too many armed people running around,” she said.
IFP national chairperson Blessed Gwala said the SDUs had caused damage in the province.
“The truth is that the units operated as kangaroo courts, intimidating people, causing destruction and dividing communities.
“The revival of such structures is nothing more than a vote of no confidence in the SAPS,” said Gwala.