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LISTEN | Stormwater drain tender sparks rash of killings in PE

24 February 2019 - 00:03 By MPUMZI ZUZILE

Recordings of men discussing two killings and warning there might soon be four bodies now form part of an investigation into a spate of execution-style killings in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
Ten people have been killed since the beginning of the month in what seems to be a battle over municipal infrastructure tenders, with the latest death being that of Akhona Josah, 26, last Sunday.
All the victims are contractors in the small and medium enterprise (SMME) sector, which is supposed to benefit from a R21m tender to clean stormwater drains in Uitenhage, Despatch and Port Elizabeth.
The municipality awarded the contracts to SMMEs two months ago in an effort to create jobs.
In the wake of the killings, the metro has strengthened security for some of its senior managers in the departments of finance, supply chain management, economic development and engineering services.
The municipality said it had opened cases with the serious organised crime unit after officials and politicians received death threats.
This week, provincial police spokesperson Col Sibongile Soci said detectives investigating the 10 deaths were in possession of two WhatsApp voice recordings.
"All leads that can assist in cracking the investigation into the murders are being followed up, including the recordings. SAPS can confirm that all the murder cases suspected to be hit-style murders have been elevated to provincial organised crime."
She said it had yet to be established beyond doubt that the cases were all linked.
The recordings are believed to have been made earlier this month, after the killing of Baba Ningi and Nkululeko Gcakasi, both 44, on February 1.
Ningi was killed outside a popular shisa nyama (buy and braai) in New Brighton. A few hours later Gcakasi was gunned down in the same area.
In subsequent weeks, eight more people died in similar fashion: Ludwe Papu, 42, Vuyani Ndike, 40, Themba Makalima, 25, Marina Ntamo, 37, Sabelo Ngquphe, 30, James Pietersen, 42, Pamela Ngamlana, 27, and Josah.
Contacted by the Sunday Times, the secretary of the Black Business Caucus, Somzana Matinise, declined to comment, as did three family members of victims.
"Talking to the media will put our lives in danger," said one family member.
In one of the recordings, a man says in Xhosa: "We have killed two … We need to kill two more before the end of this week, hiding in Kirkwood."
In the second recording, another man, also speaking Xhosa, can be heard warning others to ensure they are on the lookout as blood is going to flow.
"Ensure that you park your vehicles at home … but if you are brave you can drive your car but be warned you will have a meeting with your ancestors. As from Wednesday blood is going to be spilt. Those hiding in Kirkwood, we will kill them as our victory celebration," he said.
Soci said: "Any links to SMMEs cannot be confirmed, and yet cannot be ruled out, as this will be revealed by the investigation. Investigators are following all possible leads to trace, track and arrest the suspects involved in these murders." No arrests have been made.
Mayoral committee member for engineering services Andile Lungisa said the municipality suspected the killings were linked to other killings of SMME forum leaders since 2016.
"This metro is like a war zone."
He said the municipality had increased security for all executive mayoral members and a number of officials.
"Even officials working in townships are now accompanied by law enforcement officers to ensure their safety. Our city has been hijacked by criminals who want to hold everyone to ransom," Lungisa said.
In the past three years, three other SMME forum leaders have been killed. No-one has been arrested for these killings...

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