Premier Willies Mchunu: Commission of inquiry into underlying causes of political related killings

31 Oct 2016

Media statement announcing the commission of inquiry into underlying causes of political related killings, Public Works Conference Centre in Mayville, Durban

Members of the media

We have convened this press briefing to inform members of the media and the public at large about the commission of inquiry into underlying causes of political related killings in this province.

Last week on Friday, I presented an executive statement before the legislature enabling honorable members to make an input and to debate the matter. I was encouraged by the support expressed by the honourable members and the confidence they have in this commission of inquiry.

As members of the executive council we understand the important role of the legislature in terms of legislation, oversight and representation. These provide the basis for the accountability to the constituencies.

Most of you as you represent different media houses; you will recall that on the 21st July 2016, following my meeting with the Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko held on the 20th July, I announced that a process was to get underway to appoint a Commission of Enquiry to probe all political related murders in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

On the 1st September 2016, the Executive Council approved a request for the establishment of this Commission of Enquiry  in terms of section 127 (2) (e) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, read with section 2 (1) of KwaZulu-Natal-Commissions Act of 1999 (Act No.3 1999).

When I appeared before the legislature on Friday, I paid tribute to the members of the Multi-Party Intervention Committee who represent political parties inside and outside the legislature.

On Monday the 24th October 2016, myself and members of this committee met at Truro House in a meeting that was characterised by mutual respect. I am on record appreciating their invaluable guidance and their commitment to working with this commission of Enquiry in order to ensure that it achieves its objectives.

It should be noted that we convened the Multi-Party Intervention Committee few years ago to demonstrate the desire on the part of this democratic government to foster a spirit of partnership between the leaders of different political parties.

I have reported on various platforms that this committee has made great progress over the years. Though there have been pockets of political violence in some areas of the province, we have been able to bring back stability in many areas that were ravaged by political violence such as Umtshezi, Nongoma, Ulundi and others.

We have achieved this because of the commitment of political leaders some who are present here today. In many of our meetings, we reaffirmed our commitment to promote political tolerance, unity, peace, freedom of choice, expression, and association, before and during and after elections.

In all our meetings we have reiterated our commitment as leaders of political parties and government to publicly condemn and discourage our members from participating in violence, assault, damage to property or murders.

We undertook to support the actions of police in crime prevention, arrests and prosecutions of perpetrators of violence without fear or favour. In our last meeting on Monday we agreed unanimously that this Commission of Enquiry will significantly augment the peace-building work of the Multi-Party Intervention Committee.

On Friday, I reminded honourable members, that the peace-building is a process not a “hit and run” event.  I emphasized the point that I have been part of this process since 1994 when I served in this legislature and in the executive council under different premiers such as Dr Frank Mdlalose, Dr Ben Ngubane, Dr Lionel Mtshali of the IFP. Dr Sbusiso Ndebele, Dr Zweli Mkhize and Senzo Mchunu all from the ANC. I wish to salute all these leaders for their contribution to the creation of a peaceful province.

I have often emphasized the need to pay tribute to the two leaders who led us to peace in the provincial legislature. That is Dr Frank Themba Mdlalose, the former National Chairman of IFP and First Premier and President JG Zuma who is now the President of the Republic. They led bilateral meetings and calmed down a lot of conflict and brought sanity.

It should be noted members of the media that through various peace initiatives and bilateral meetings between ANC and IFP the atmosphere of political intolerance was transformed to create a new spirit of open but peaceful competition and cooperation.

At long last we had meetings where the ANC and IFP leaders realised that bloodletting and the violence was not only unnecessary, but the two parties belonged together. We soon realised that there are be better ways to resolve political differences.

These initiatives bore fruits and were strongly augmented by the call by the king Isilo SamaBandla who insisted on a non-partisan path, as well as the prayers and platforms created by the KwaZulu-Natal Clergy, led amongst others by the late Rev Dr Mgojo.

Ahead of the local government elections, in one of the platforms I pointed out that Presidents of the IFP and NFP also deserve to be applauded for successfully mitigating the conflict that started between their members when the NFP was formed.

They personally addressed leaders and members of their respective parties and by so doing, ended the conflict.

On Friday, we all acknowledged the fact that while the provincial legislature is characterized by robust debate and a climate of co-existence of political parties despite them holding different opinions, there are elements hell-bent on creating anarchy in the province.

We have resolved to unite and grapple head on with killings associated with intra or inter political killings. We have agreed that these killings will be traced back to 2011 until 2016 ahead and after local government elections.

In considering the best course of action available to the Province, it was borne in mind that the responsibility for the prevention, combating and investigation of crime vests in the South African Police Service in terms of section 205 of the Constitution.

On the other hand, the Province is responsible for research / analysis and the development of safety models in terms of the Civilian Secretariat of Police Service Act, 2011 (Act No. 2 of 2011) (hereinafter “the CSP Act”).

The Province is therefore mandated to analyse the underlying causes of the murder of politicians in KwaZulu-Natal and develop measures to address such causes.    

Our records show that during 2016 to date, a total of 12 members of the African National Congress (ANC), 3 members of the National Freedom Party (NFP), 3 members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and 2 members of the South African Communist Party (SACP) have been murdered.

The following are some of the more recent incidents:

  • On 1 May 2012, Councillor Bongani Shelembe of the NFP was killed whilst returning from a meeting at Tugela Ferry;
  • On 8 May 2016, ANC Youth League regional deputy chairperson Wandile Ngubeni was killed in Newcastle;
  • On 16 May 2016, Councillor Thami Nyembe of the ANC was ambushed while driving in the Masundwini area;
  • On 1 June 2016, Simo Mncwabe, who had just resigned as Mpofana Municipality chief financial officer, was killed in Edendale;
  • On 2 June 2016, ANC branch chairperson for Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, Nathi Hlongwa, was shot;
  • On 8 June 2016, ANC members Badedile Tshapha and Phetheni Ngubane, were shot while making their way home from a branch general meeting in Imbali, Pietermaritzburg;
  • Alson Nkosi of the IFP was killed on 16 June 2016 in the Abaqulisi Local Municipality;
  • On 2 July 2016, Thembi Mbongo‚ an ANC candidate for Ward 6, was murdered outside Osizweni, near Newcastle;
  • Councillor Isaac Thulebona Nhlebela of the NFP was shot dead on 6 July 2016, in Nqutu Road, in Dundee;
  • Bongani Skhosana, an ANC Ward 1 candidate councillor in Umziwabantu Municipality in Harding, was killed at his home on 18 July 2016;
  • Also on 18 July 2016,  Khanyisile Ngobese-Sibisi, the Ward 20 (Acaciaville) Ladysmith candidate for the ANC died in a hail of bullets;
  • On 21 July 2016, Anna Madonsela of the NFP was stabbed to death while putting up posters in Newcastle; and
  • IFP members Siyanda Mnguni and Thokozani Majola were killed in Estcourt on 22 July 2016.

Whilst the specific cases are subject to police investigation and prosecution/ possible prosecution, the underlying causes require analysis to enable the Provincial Government to develop appropriate remedial measures.  

In this regard, it is our considered view that a Commission of Inquiry would have the powers necessary to undertake such analysis effectively and make appropriate recommendations.

At this stage, I want to turn my focus to the Terms of Reference of Commission. These terms of reference may be added to, varied or amended from time to time.

It is proposed that the Commission investigates and reports on the underlying causes giving rise to the murder of politicians in KwaZulu-Natal with reference to:

  • the number, nature and locality of incidents of murder and attempted murder involving politicians, both as victims and suspects, in the Province from 2011
  • indications whether the incidents are related to political, ethnic, tribal, social or criminal factors or any other internal or external influences or factors which may be considered relevant
  • the outcome of any police investigation and prosecution of the incidents, including the number of successful prosecutions, trials and convictions of the perpetrators; and
  • the perceptions of the public, political parties, community structures and members of the relevant communities in respect of the underlying causes of the incidents of murder and attempted murder involving politicians, both as victims and suspects, and the effectiveness of the policing thereof by the police service in the Province.

It is further proposed that the Commission makes recommendations:

  • to address the underlying causes giving rise to the murder of politicians in KwaZulu-Natal;
  • in respect of the prevention of future incidents of murder and attempted murder involving politicians, both as victims and suspects and ensuring the successful investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators;
  • on the roles and responsibilities of all spheres of government (national, provincial and local) in the planning and co-ordination of their responses in respect of such incidents; and
  • on any other matter of whatsoever nature that the Commission deems necessary or appropriate.

The Commission must produce and submit its final detailed report containing a summary of the evidence, its findings and recommendations no later than 12 months after the date of the Proclamation.

However, the Commission must submit interim reports and recommendations to the Premier every three months prior to the final report being presented to the Premier. The Commission may, where appropriate, refer any matter regarding the conduct of any person for prosecution or further investigation to the appropriate agency, department or body.

Proposed composition of Commission

In selecting the Chairperson and members of the Commission, regard has been given to the relevant fields of knowledge and these include law, political science, criminology, sociology and economics. In this respect, it must be borne in mind that the Commission may appoint evidence leaders and call expert witnesses to supplement the knowledge base of the Commission.

The Commission is expected to consult widely with community safety structures, religious leaders, traditional leaders, political organisations, youth, business, organised labour, the transport industry, private security industry and military veterans.

After consultation with the Member of the Executive Council responsible for community safety and liaison, the Member of the  Executive Council responsible for cooperative governance and traditional affairs, the Minister of Police and the Independent Electoral Commission, we have appointed the following members of the commission:

  • Advocate MTK Moerane SC, the Chairperson
  • Mr Vasu Gounden, Commissioner
  • Prof Cheryl Potgieter, Commissioner
  • Mr SA Mdledle as, Secretary of the Commission.

The Office of the Premier is responsible for the financing of the Commission. A budget of between R10 million to R15 million has been set aside to enable the commission to do its work without any hindrance. This include:

  • The remuneration of the chairperson, other members of the commission, the secretariat and other personnel involved in the commission; and
  • Related expenses, disbursements, and costs including costs associated with the hiring of venues across the province.  

The sittings of the commission and venues will be announced in due course. Members of the public who are in possession of information which may be relevant to the matters to be enquired into by the Commission and who wish to give evidence before the Commission are invited to contact the Secretary of the Commission to arrange a time and place where they may testify before the Commission. 

The Secretary, Mr SA Mdledle can be contacted at Mdledle Inc., Ground Floor, Shackleton House, 187 Hoosen Haffejee Street, Pietermaritzburg 3201, Telephone Number 033 345 4022 and email solo@mdledleinc.co.za

We must not look back !!!!!!

I wish to state on behalf of the ANC as the governing party that we are pleased with the manner in which members of the provincial legislature have conducted themselves.

The culture of mutual respect and tolerance of opposing views is fundamental in maintaining the authority of the legislature and the respect of government institutions.

On Friday I reiterated that point that the pride of our respective political parties and of personal ambition must not obscure the focus on the future of our province.

We have a responsibility as members of the legislature and executive council to build and bestow a sense of collective responsibility to our children and future generations.

I thank you.

Province: