The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) into the spate of Political Killings in KwaZulu-Natal has commended government efforts to clampdown on the scourge.
Addressing the media in Durban on Thursday, Police Minister and IMC chairperson, Bheki Cele, announced that since May last year a significant 163 cases had been investigated.
“It is even more encouraging to note that from 163 case dockets, 52 [were] finalised dockets thus far. 59 cases are currently pending in court. 52 case dockets are still under investigation with a result of 27 convictions,” Cele said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last year set up the IMC in an effort to resolve what was deemed a shockingly slow progress on more than 132 murder investigations in the province.
“The IMC convened its very first meeting on 21 May 2018, where the status of cases was thoroughly presented; which led to the establishment of the new task team in July 2018 to investigate all political killings in Kwa-Zulu Natal,” the Minister said.
Out of 163 case dockets, he said, 80 accounts was for murder, 24 for attempted murder, 36 for intimidation and other charges. During this period, 161 arrests have been effected by the task team, with the following details:
• Detained for questioning and released 25
• Charged suspects 136
• Suspects in custody 66
• Suspects out on bail 32
• Convicted 27
• Deceased 2
• Life Sentence – 5 Accused
• Between 6 months and 50 years imprisonment – 22 Accused
“On six of the 59 cases currently pending in court, charges have been provisionally withdrawn against some of the identified suspects. Amongst the six cases that have been provisionally withdrawn some suspects have been re-arrested and their cases have been enrolled in different courts,” Cele said.
High profile cases
The Task Team has moved amongst others on the following high profile cases to courts from different political parties
• Murder of Sindiso Magaqa (4 accused)
• Murder of Londiwe Mhlongo (1 accused)
• Murder of Derick Mthethwa (2 accused)
• Murder of Wandile Ngobeni (3 accused)
• Murder of Sibuyiselo Dlamini (4 accused)
• Murder of Qashana Mchunu (6 accused)
• Murder of Sibusiso Mbhobo (6 accused)
There are other investigations that are conducted by the task team involving murders of chief traffic officer of Umvoti Municipality, director of Alfred Duma Municipality and the murder of a traffic officer and two others in Plessislear.
Recovery of firearms
During this period, the task team recovered 12 firearms. Among these were rifles (1x3.75 01), 10 9mm pistols, 1 revolver, 140 rounds of ammunition, and 11 magazine.
“All firearms have been sent for ballistic tests, three of the 12 have been linked positively to murder cases under investigation by task team,” he said.
However, 77 case dockets not related to the Task Team mandate, but linked with allocated politically related cases were taken over by the Task Team for parallel investigations. Out of the 77 cases registered cases, 56 are court going and 21 under investigation.
“Over and above the allocated and parallel politically related cases, the task team is conducting intelligence-driven operations targeting unlicensed firearms which have led to 37 arrested suspects on 31 cases and 30 firearms were recovered. These two categories of cases are also allocated to the Task Team to ensure centralised investigation and prosecution,” he said.
Private security companies
In an effort to create a safe and secure environment as stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa the task team has clamped down on private security companies within the province and commits to continuously conduct operations against identified private security companies.
“Some of the firearms linked to murder cases have not yet been recovered. The following security companies have been inspected and all firearms are currently confiscated and sent for ballistic testing. Owners or responsible persons of companies have been arrested and charged. The companies include Vuco Security Solutions, Ground Force (subsidiary to Vuco security solutions), Mosheni Communications, Inkunzi Security, LK Security Solutions, Wendlovu, V1 Security, and Sizowakha Security.
Cele said two of the eight security companies (Mosheni and Sizowakha) are not linked to cases under investigation by the task team.
“A total of 13 cases have been opened and 14 suspects arrested and charged in terms of Firearms Control Act and PSiRA regulations and 377 firearms from the eight private security companies have been sent for ballistic testing. Firearms will be returned back to owners upon completion of investigation or if declared unfit firearms will be destroyed and affected companies will be dealt with in terms of relevant legal prescripts,” he said.
Investigating political killings
The Minister said it is important to state categorically that the task team in its nature of establishment is to investigate political killings in the province. This is where politicians have been killed, at times suspects are politicians. He said this makes the execution of the Task Team mandate bound to trigger political fireworks.
“Unfortunately this has been misconstrued as being meddling in political factionalism of political parties using State apparatus. It must be emphasized that, the investigation and subsequently prosecutions of these cases are done in accordance with the rule of law and ideas enshrined in our Constitution,” he said.
He said the IMC remains committed in delivering to the fundamental directive by the President of the Republic of South Africa to address the scourge of political killings.
“Furthermore, the IMC will continue to provide support to the multi-disciplinary task team that is currently executing its mandate in KwaZulu-Natal. The progress made to date by the task team is highly commendable and evident to the commitment to serve with integrity without fear or favour and prejudice,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za