It's a case of too little, too late in KZN's killing fields

07 September 2017 - 06:06 By The Times Editorial
Former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa died in hospital in Durban on Monday.
Former ANCYL secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa died in hospital in Durban on Monday.
Image: Leratu Maduna/Gallo Images/Foto24

Many woke up to the news on Tuesday morning that there had been another political death in KwaZulu-Natal.

Sindiso Magaqa, a former secretary-general of the ANC Youth League, had died in a Durban hospital on Monday. It was the end of a life-or-death battle that started on July 13 when he and two colleagues from the Umzimkhulu Municipality were shot at more than a dozen times.

His death brings to 10 the number of politicians killed in the province this year alone. Five of those have been of councillors or former councillors in Umzimkhulu. There have also been several attempted murders, including one last month on the mayor of the Mpofana Municipality and his family, who were lucky to escape after their house was set alight as they slept.

What we are seeing harks back to the brutal killings that dominated headlines in the 1980s and 1990s. This was when areas around Richmond - just 70km from Umzimkhulu, where Magaqa was attacked - became known as the "killing fields".

It is good to hear that President Jacob Zuma urgently wants to meet with Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to discuss the killings, but it needs to be asked: Why did this action not come sooner? Where were the meetings when rival parties and internal ANC and alliance partner factions became victims ahead of the local government elections last year? Where are the arrests? The prosecutions? The jail terms? Where is the justice?

Sadly, there hasn't been enough done to deal with what is without doubt a crisis. The police have not acted swiftly or effectively enough, and neither have the politicians. Unless action is stepped up, we can expect even more bloodshed as the ANC's December conference draws closer.

A meeting with the minister of police is a start, but it's a baby step - and one that has come too late.