Cape Town – Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says police have made several arrests in relation to alleged political killings in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country leading up to next week’s municipal elections.
The Minister said this when he briefed the media in Cape Town on Wednesday to give an update on the work of the task team that was established to tackle cases related to alleged political killings and other incidents.
The Minister said 25 cases have been recorded across five provinces. He said all of them are politically related incidents.
“In summary, to date, we have had 25 politically related violent incidents that have been reported to the South African Police Service. Fourteen of those cases are murder and attempted murder. Two of those are cases of arson.
“Two of the 25 [are] related to public violence cases, and two other cases relate to assault GBH [grievous bodily harm] and the pointing of a firearm. One case relates to damage to property and the other case relates to culpable homicide.
“In so far as the murder cases are concerned, we have had seven arrests effected. On attempted murder, we effected two arrests. On the possession of unlicenced firearms, we have had three arrests. On the cases of public violence, we have had eight arrests.
“On the cases of assault GBH and pointing of a firearm, we have had three arrests,” Minister Nhleko said.
Since March this year, a spate of incidents and killings linked to candidates who were nominated to stand as ward councillors for the local government elections have been reported in several provinces including North West, Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
For KwaZulu-Natal, where the large number of incidents has caused a “heightened level of concern” in society, a task team was established by Minister Nhleko. Other focus teams were formed in other provinces as well.
The task team comprises seven detectives, five crime intelligence members, four members from the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) and 11 members from the taxi violence task team.
In Gauteng, one suspect was arrested in connection with an incident on 19 June at the Pretoria Show Grounds during an ANC media briefing. The case will be heard on 11 August 2016.
In North West, a case of murder was reported in relation to an incident on 18 March in Doornkop. No arrest has been made and police are still investigating the incident.
In the Eastern Cape in the district of Tsolo, a case of murder was reported after a shooting incident in Ginqo township. Six suspects have been arrested, and the case has been remanded to 24 September 2016.
In Mpumalanga, one case of murder was reported at Pienaar Police Station in relation to an incident on 25 May at an area called Salvation. Arrests are yet to be made.
The rest of the cases were reported in KwaZulu-Natal, the Minister said.
Giving an update on the individual cases, the Minister said at Mehlokazulu High School in Imbali township, just outside Pietermaritzburg, a case of a double murder was reported after the ANC held its Branch General Meeting (BGM).
Three suspects were arrested in connection to the fatal shootings, and further charges of possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition were effected.
The Minister said two of the suspects were successfully linked to the double murders. The case will be heard on 23 August 2016.
In the Inchanga area, also in KwaZulu-Natal, seven suspects were arrested in connection to a murder and attempted murder on 24 January 2016 following a physical conflict between members of the South African Communist Party and the ANC. The case was heard on 22 July 2016.
Another case of attempted murder in the area of Osizweni township in New Castle was reported after a conflict that arose from a meeting of the ANC at the Ezamakhaya Primary School. One arrest was made. The case was also in court on 22 July.
“We continue to follow leads on a number of these particular cases. We are also working with prosecution authorities in fast tracking some of these particular cases.
“We will continue to do what is necessary to ensure that these matters just don’t go unresolved. They have to be resolved,” Minister Nhleko said.