Glebelands Hostel the 'centre' of KZN violence - Commission hears

Alleged failure of eThekwini Metro to manage hostel a leading cause for violence

Glebelands Hostel the 'centre' of KZN violence - Moerane Commission hears

15 March 2018

Durban - Evidence leaders at the Moerane Commission delivered their closing arguments in Mount Edgecombe on Wednesday - after almost a year of public hearings.

The commission was established by Premier Willis Mchunu in October 2016, amid a high number of political killings in the province. Chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, the commission is investigating killings in the province since 2011.

Leading evidence in a full day sitting, advocates Bheki Manyathi and Andile Ngqanda attempted to draw focus and assist commissioners producing their final report on political killings that have plagued KwaZulu-Natal in recent years.

Manyathi spoke at length about the infamous Glebelands Hostel and said that, while the commission was not investigating the hostel itself, it featured strongly because politics was the primary cause of violence there.

Manyathi said there were many underlying causes to the violence at the hostel, but that the alleged failure of eThekwini Metro to manage it was a leading cause.

"The Public Protector's report cites the failure of the municipality as one of the causes of the problems there. We have several unchallenged [pieces of] evidence indicating that the failure of the municipality led to maintaining criminal elements."

Manyathi submitted that the "chaos" in the area helped foster corruption.

"The chaos leads to criminality and criminals taking advantage of the chaotic situation. Political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said the chaos in Glebelands was created by the state and municipality, so it would be easy to plunder the area."

Manyathi said the commission also heard compelling evidence that political leadership in the hostel caused further problems.

"We heard evidence that there were several demonstrations to have the councillor removed. The perception was that he was [the] instigator of violence. The plea from residents was ignored by the ANC locally and provincially."

Manyathi said a peace committee was established in the hostel, but this was also side-lined.

"A peace committee was established by the province and it yielded results. But it was apparently disbanded by government with no reasons being given. eThekwini Metro up to provincial level, are deliberately turning a blind eye to Glebelands because they are benefiting from the chaos," his evidence said.

The hostel has one of the largest murder rates in the country, with more than 90 people killed since 2014. A large portion of the Moerane Commission has described the hostel as a hot bed of criminal activity and a home for hitmen.

No third forces

Speaking on the African National Congress and its claims that there could be a third force involved in the killings Manyathi said: "There is no theory to back it up. The ANC themselves said it was only a possibility. They did not say it was definite. Based on all the evidence, they could not explain who the handler of the third force is. The commission must make that finding that there is no third force."

Umzimkhulu was more peaceful in the Eastern Cape

Manyathi added evidence that showed Umzimkhulu - an area fraught with political tension - had little political violence when it was demarcated as part of the Eastern Cape.

"We have heard evidence from the SA Communist Party (SACP) that when Umzimkhulu became part of KZN, it became violent. There was a change in the political configuration and it became more complex."

Violence in the area made national news after former ANC Youth League leader Sindiso Magaqa, was shot and killed in a hail of bullets in Umzimkhulu in early 2017.

Police evidence

Submitting evidence for the police, advocate Mthokosizi Ngcobo said a large portion of the testimonies at the commission was hearsay.

"It was easy to note contradictions in some of the witnesses. Perceptions differed significantly with everyone who came into contact with police. There is evidence of witnesses who were very impressed with the work of police."

He added that witnesses were unhappy when police did not make arrests.

"This does not mean that police are not doing their work. There are those who are happy. There are results coming from the police service."

Moerane, together with fellow commissioners Professor Cheryl Potgieter and advocate Vasu Gounden are expected hand over their report on political killings to the premier's office at the end of March.