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Murder of politicians in KZN: Witnesses to testify in camera

17 July 2017 - 06:41 By NATHI OLIFANT
Gavel. File photo.
Gavel. File photo. Gavel. File photo.
Image: Thinkstock

Residents of the notorious Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi, who are set to testify before the Moerane Commission of Inquiry into political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, are so terrified that they will give evidence in camera.

The commission, probing the underlying causes of the murder of politicians in the province, resumes today, with fresh evidence expected to shed light on the hostel's bloody history. The R15-million commission was set up by Premier Willies Mchunu last October. It began its work in March.

Today's testimonies are expected to centre on mysterious and unresolved killings, intimidation and brazen attempted murders at the Durban hostel.

Vanessa Burger, of advocacy group the Independent Community Activist for Human Rights and Social Justice, which has been central to peace initiatives at Glebelands, will testify today.

"Yes I am testifying first on Monday. The other person who will testify is a peace committee member [and] community leader. His testimony will probably be held in camera due to security concerns," said Burger.

She said two Glebelands community leaders had testified a few weeks ago. Human rights activist and KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas's testimony in March also covered the hostel.

The notorious hostel was thrust into the national spotlight by the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, recently.

Mkhwebane berated the SA Police Service, the eThekwini metro police and the eThekwini municipality for failing residents of the hostel.

She said this had led to a string of killings and evictions.

She said police failed to prevent, combat and investigate crimes, maintain public order and uphold and enforce the law.

The Commonwealth Legal Education Association lodged the complaint with the public protector, citing frequent killings and unlawful evictions at the hostel.

Since March 2014 77 people have reportedly been killed at the hostel. But Burger puts the number at 89 as of July 13. She said 14 of those killed were political leaders from surrounding areas, Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

"A further six murders remain unconfirmed, but are suspected to have been carried out by Glebelands killers. Despite nearly three times the number of people killed at Marikana - the biggest blot on our democracy since 1994 - Glebelands has to date remained a national blindspot," said Burger.

Advocate Marumo Moerane chairs the commission. The other commissioners areadvocate Vasu Gounden and professor Cheryl Potgieter. Solomuzi Mdledle is the commission's secretary. Bheki Manyathi and Michelle Andile Ngqanda are evidence leaders.