The family of the African National Congress (ANC) ward councillor, Mabhungu Mkhize, who was gunned down on Friday at Imbali Unit 14 in Pietermaritzburg in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, says they are now fearing for their lives.
Mkhize was the ward 41 councillor in the Msunduzi Municipality. He was attacked while in his car. A friend who was with him at the time of the incident, survived with gunshots wounds.
Police have arrested two suspects and are hunting for the remaining attackers.
In the past 10 months, 17 councillors were killed in the province.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Lt Col Robert Netshiunda says when police arrived on the scene of the shooting, they found councillor Mabhungu Mkhize’s vehicle riddled with bullet holes.
Mkhize tried to drive away when two attackers opened fire, but lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a house. The person who was travelling with Mkhize was shot in the thigh, but managed to run away.
Netshiunda says Plessislaer officers and members of the uMgungundlovu District task team tracked the suspects to a house in Imbali.
“Police officers from Plessislaer and the uMgungundlovu District Task Team mobilised resources and the suspects were arrested at a house on Ntumbeza Road in Imbali. Two firearms were found hidden on the roof of a garage and the vehicle which was reportedly used as getaway from the crime scene was recovered and seized. The suspects, aged 23 and 27-years-old, will appear in court soon on charges of murder and attempted murder.”
#sapsKZN Swift response by #SAPS in Plessislaer has led to the arrests of two suspects who had just shot and fatally wounded a ward councilor and injured another person at Unit 14 in Imbali on Friday afternoon, 25 August 2023. TMhttps://t.co/uvpxqtPG3V pic.twitter.com/XIFvY5JhwM
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) August 26, 2023
Motive of killing not clear
But Mkhize’s family says they are living in fear as more suspects are still on the run. Mkhize’s brother, Mthetho Mkhize says the family will not find peace until the mastermind has been arrested.
“We are now very scared because we don’t know if this attack was politically motivated or personal. We don’t know if the family is in danger or not. We are now living in fear. Although we are also happy that police made a quick arrest of some of the suspects, but it is not enough. We want the mastermind arrested.”
The chairperson of the ANC’s Moses Mabhida Region, Mzimkhulu Thebolla, is calling on government to review its policy on the protection of councillors, especially in hot spot provinces like KwaZulu-Natal. Thebolla was speaking during the party’s visit to Mkhize’s family.
#SABCNews Chairperson of the ANC’s Moses Mabhida Region Mzimkhulu Thebolla is calling on government to review it policy on the protection of councillors. This after ANC ward 41 councillor Mabhungu Mkhize was gunned down at Imbali unit 14 in Pietermaritzburg KZN. @nipsta1724 pic.twitter.com/CCudpGmael
— Nonjabulo Mntungwa (@NjabuloMntungwa) August 26, 2023
Thebolla says they want to address these concerns at national level.
“In terms of the regulations only the mayor, deputy mayor and speaker, we are only entitled to two body guards. It takes years to get security threat analysis from the SAPS and when it comes it’s only valid for three months. That is not enough looking at the political environment in South Africa, especially KZN, it is not enough. We will be raising this as the province of KZN in the national assembly of Salga.”
Meanwhile, MEC for Co-operative Governance, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, has expressed concern over what she calls the unabated assassination of councillors in the province.