KZN traditional leaders call for govt protection in wake of killings

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The House of Traditional Leaders in KwaZulu-Natal has called on the government to prioritise the safety and protection of traditional leaders in the province.

This comes after the brutal murder of Inkosi Siphamandla Khumalo and his wife in Utrecht in the northern part of the province at the weekend. The two were ambushed by unknown gunmen while travelling on the R34 in Utrecht.

More than 50 traditional leaders including Headsmen and Amakhosi have been attacked and killed in the past four years in the province.

No arrests have been made. The motive for the attack is not yet known. His family are demanding answers.

Inkosi Khumalo was travelling with his wife and four-year-old child when they were attacked. It’s believed that as he slowed down for the speed humps, his attackers opened fire. He and his wife died instantly.

“What happened to Inkosi Khumalo was very sad. Our government and all the relevant stakeholders who work in Amakhosi-related matters must make sure that the safety of Amakhosi is important to avoid things like what has happened to Inkosi Khumalo. For us, we are short of words about what has happened in our family,” says brother Bongani Khumalo.

Inkosi Khumalo had survived an assassination attempt last year. Traditional leaders have been calling on the government to fast-track their protection.

“Inkosi Khumalo was supposed to have been protected from the day he survived an assassination attempt on his life last year. We knew that his attackers would come back for him. As traditional leaders, we are concerned that the government has not done anything to protect us. As it is now, we don’t know who’s next. We are urging the government prioritise the safety of Amakhosi by putting words into action,” says KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional and Khoi-San leaders Inkosi S’fiso Shinga.

“If conflicts arise let’s invite all the stakeholders including government to come up with solutions. Our traditional leaders are being killed. We have previously heard government saying that they would be intervening by protecting Amakhosi and they went as far as saying they had allocated a certain budget toward this cause, but we don’t know what’s holding that programme,” says Molefe Traditional leader, Inkosi Bokang Molefe.

Residents of eMxhakeni and eZimbuthu under the AmaNtungwa Traditional Clan led by Khumalo have hailed him for championing community development and his role in bringing investment to the rural towns.

“His passing has left us devastated. He was such a loving chief and a solution-driven person. Our community trusted him in coming up with solutions whenever we had conflicts,” says resident Mthokozisi Nyembe.

“I was actually born in Newcastle, and we have been looking everywhere for a place to build without any success but when we went to Khumalo he didn’t hesitate to give us a portion of land,” says resident Hlengiwe Zwane.

Khumalo also served as a chairperson of the Amajuba House of Traditional Leaders. The funeral service will take place at the AmaNtungwa Royal Palace this Saturday.