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Guns for hire: Commission hears Glebelands hostel a hideout for paid killers

18 July 2017 - 06:37 By NATHI OLIFANT
Glebelands hostel in Umlazi. File photo.
Glebelands hostel in Umlazi. File photo.

KwaZulu-Natal's wave of violence has its epicentre in Glebelands Hostel in the heart of Umlazi, south of Durban, a violence researcher claims.

About 90 people have been killed since April 2014 either in the hostel precinct or elsewhere in a series of attacks and counterattacks, according to activists.

Attacks by Glebelands hitmen are believed to include last Thursday night's shooting of ANCYL secretary-general and Umzimkhulu councillor Sindiso Magaqa.

Magaqa, with two other local municipality councillors, was shot and wounded with an R1 rifle in a shop near his home.

Executions have been committed by men from Glebelands as far south as Lusikisiki, about 310km from Durban.

Expert witness Vanessa Burger, of the Independent Community Activist for Human Rights and Social Justice advocacy group, told the Moerane commission of inquiry into political violence that recent murders in Richmond and Um-zimkhulu had been carried out by Glebelands-linked hitmen.

Three have been killed in politically motivated violence in Um-zimkhulu since April.

Burger told the commission she had it on good authority that a large amount of money was recently collected in order to pay a hitman to carry out killings in Umzimkhulu.

Evidence leader Bheki Manyathi asked Burger if she regarded the attempted murder of Magaqa as one of those hits, to which Burger said "yes".

"The hitman was paid and he is in Umzimkhulu. The three that were shot in Umzimkhulu were killed by the same hitman," Burger said.

 A commission witness, who cannot be identified, said that the forced collection of cash was used to buy ammunition, replenish firearms and to bribe cops to free arrested suspects.

"At least 25% of the 71 blocks in Glebelands is controlled solely by hitmen," the witness, who lived in the hostel from 1989 to 2016, said.

He said many people moved out of Glebelands to escape the violence. However, many of them were followed and killed.