Political assassinations in post-apartheid South Africa

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There have been a number of political assassinations in post-apartheid South Africa.[1][2] In 2013 it was reported that there had been more than 450 political assassinations in the province of KwaZulu-Natal since the end of apartheid in 1994.[3] In July 2013 the Daily Maverick reported that there had been "59 political murders in the last five years".[4] In August 2016 it was reported that there had been at least twenty political assassinations in the run up to the local government elections on the 3rd of August that year, most of them in KwaZulu-Natal.[5]

Political assassinations have often been ascribed to battles around patronage within the ruling African National Congress.[6][7][8][9][10][11] However, not all assassinations are a result of conflict within the ruling party. The National Freedom Party led by Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, with its base largely in KwaZulu-Natal, claims that 21 of its members have been killed since the party was founded in early 2011.[12] The Inkatha Freedom Party claims that ten of its elected representatives have been murdered.[13] In June 2013 Abahlali baseMjondolo, an autonomous shack dwellers' movement in Durban, claimed that the murder of Nkululeko Gwala, a local leader in the organisation, was a political assassination.[14][4] In May 2016 two ANC councillors were convicted of murder following the assassination of Thuli Ndlovu, also a local leader in Abahlali baseMjondolo .[15] In September 2020 it was reported that "Since 2016, there have been at least 38 assassinations and 14 attempted assassinations in mining localities in KwaZulu-Natal."[16]

According to Raymond Suttner "assassinations have become a regularised way of deciding on leadership and access to wealth within the ANC and its allies".[17] In 2016 the ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe said: "The reality is that selection of candidates for council is always a life-and-death issue.[18] But assassinations are only the most extreme tip of the iceberg of violence that surrounds South African elections. David Bruce published an extensive report on the 2014 election pointing to the subtle and complex ways in which the ANC intimidates its political rivals.[19] In the run up to the 2014 election the Independent Electoral Commission did little to intervene to prevent violence, the abuse of government rescources and the use of the state run media (the SABC) to favour the ruling party.[20]

Mark Shaw and Kim Thomas have recorded just over 1,000 individual cases of assassination or attempted assassination.[21]

Location of assassinations[edit]

It has been argued that the situation is particularly bad in the provinces of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal with KwaZulu-Natal being, by far, the worst.[10][22][23][24] KwaZulu-Natal has been described as the "epicenter of political violence"[25] while Mpumalanga has been described as "notorious for political assassinations"[26] Fourteen assassinations have been documented in Mpumalanga[27] and 450 in KwaZulu-Natal.[3] It has been reported that "Since the beginning of 2011, the murder of people with high political profiles has been confined almost exclusively to KwaZulu-Natal, with 27 in the province since February 2011.[27] According to the ANC 38 of its members have been assassinated in KwaZulu-Natal since the beginning of 2011.[28] It has been suggested that support for murders in the taxi industry in KwaZulu-Natal by leading figures in the ruling party legitimated the use of violence in the democratic era which then spilled over into the political sphere.[28][29][30]

Conviction rates and a possible 'licence to kill'[edit]

There has been one conviction in response to the fourteen assassinations in Mpumalanga and four in KwaZulu-Natal for forty two assassinations leading one researcher to conclude that some people are starting to believe there may be a "general licence for political killings" but that "this may only be available to people in certain political positions".[27]

List of politicians assassinated in post-Apartheid South Africa[edit]

  • Thomas Shabalala, IFP MP (and former warlord), Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2005[31]
  • Thandi Mtsweni, Deputy Mayor, Secunda, Mpumalanga, 2007[32]
  • Rajah Naidoo, Independent councillor, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2007[33]
  • Moss Phakoe, ANC councillor, Rustenburg, North West Province, 2009[10][34]
  • Caswell Maluleke, ANC Mayor Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, 2000[6]
  • Jimmy Mtolo, local ANC leader, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2009[35]
  • Sthembiso Cele, chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Umgababa, KwaZulu-Natal, 2009[36]
  • Bongani Ngcobo, ANC leader, Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, 2009[37]
  • Jabulani Khumalo, ANC leader, Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, 2009[36]
  • Jimmy Mohlala, ANC leader, Mbombela, Mpumalanga, 2010[6]
  • James Nkambule, senior ANC politician, Mpumalanga, 2010[38]
  • Sammy Mpatlanyane, senior ANC politician, Mpumalanga, 2010[13]
  • John Ndlovu, ANC politician, Thulamasha, Mpumalanga, 2011[39]
  • S'bu Sibiya, ANC regional secretary, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2011[40]
  • Wiseman Mshibe, ANC councillor, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2011[40]
  • Wandile Mkhize, ANC chief whip, South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, 2012[1][41]
  • Nhlakanipho Shabane, ANC member, South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, 2012[38]
  • Dumisani Malunga, ANC member, South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, 2012[42]
  • Bheki Chiliza, ANC member, South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, 2012[43]
  • Mthembeni Shezi, ANC Councillor, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal 2012[44]
  • David Mosiane Chika, ANC Leader, North West 2012[45]
  • S'bu Majola, ANC branch chairperson, Wembezi, Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, 2013[46]
  • Makhosonke Msibi, ANC Councillor, Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, 2013[47]
  • Siphumelelo Buthelezi, NFP Councillor, Ulundi, 3 November 2013[48]
  • Buyisile Mkavu, ANC Councillor, KwaLanga, Uitenhage, 4 August 2014[49]
  • Charles Thembisile Kanku, ANC ward councillor, Cape Town, 20 October 2014[50]

List of other political assassinations in post-Apartheid South Africa[edit]

  • Sinethemba Myeni, 12 April 2006, Umlazi, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (former SACP member supporting independent candidate in local government elections)[51]
  • Mazwi 'Komi' Zulu, 3 May 2006, Umlazi, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (former SACP member supporting independent candidate in local government elections)[51]
  • Scorpion Dimane, anti-mining activist, Mbizana, 2008[52]
  • Mbongeleni Zondi, traditional leader with close ties to Jacob Zuma and the ANC, Durban, 2009
  • Mthunzi Nkonki, MV veteran, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, 2010[53]
  • Bomber 'Radioman' Ntshangase, SACP leader, Mpumalanga, 2012[38][54]
  • Kevin Kunene, environmental rights activist, KwaMbonambi, 2012[55]
  • Dalivuyo Bongo, National Union of Mineworkers, Rustenburg, North West, 2012[56]
  • Thembinkosi Qumbelo, Local activist and ANC leader, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2013[57]
  • Two unnamed members of Abahlali baseMjondolo, KwaNdengezi, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2013[58]
  • Steve Khululekile, AMCU regional organiser, Rustenburg, North West, 2013[59]
  • Nkululeko Gwala, Abahlali baseMjondolo activist, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 2013[4][14][60]
  • Sthembiso Biyela & Buyisile Malusi, (Biyela was reported to have left the IFP to join the ANC) Durban, 2014[61]
  • Njabulo Ndebele, Sibonelo “John-John” Ntuli and Ntobeko Maphumulo, NUMSA leaders, Isithebe, KwaZulu-Natal, August 2014[62]
  • Thuli Ndlovu, Abahlali baseMjondolo leader, KwaNdengezi, Durban, 2014[63]
  • Charles Khanku, SANCO leader, Cape Town[64]
  • Mobeni Khwela, Local SACP activist, KwaNdengezi, Durban, 2014[65]
  • Mbuyiselo Phajana Mnguni, Free State regional chairperson of the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union, 2014[66]
  • Chris Nkosi, Gauteng secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, Germiston, 2015[67]
  • Philip Dlamini & another unnamed man, SACP members, Durban, 2015[68]
  • Sikhosiphi Bazooka Rhadebe, Chairperson of the chairman of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mbizana, Eastern Cape, 2016[69]
  • Nontsikelelo Blose, SACP activist, KwaZulu-Natal, 2016[70]
  • Mthunzi ‘Ras’ Zuma, Cape Town, 2017[71]
  • S'bonelo Mpeku, Chairperson of an Abahlali baseMjondolo branch in Lamontville, Durban, November 2017[72]
  • Soyiso Nkqayini, Youth League organiser for Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cato Manor, Durban, December 2017[73]
  • S'fiso Ngcobo, Chairperson of an Abahlali baseMjondolo branch in Marianhill, Durban, May 2018[74]
  • Bongani Cola, Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of SA, Port Elizabeth, 2019[75]
  • Malibongwe Mdazo, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, in Rustenburg, North West Province, 18 August 2021[76]

List of assassinations of government officials in post-Apartheid South Africa[edit]

  • Noby Ngombane, Head of the Free State government's policy monitoring and evaluation unit, Bloemfontein, Free State, 2005[38]
  • Sammy Mpatlanyane, spokesman for the Mpumalanga department of culture, sport and recreation, Nelspruit, 2010[77]
  • Oupa Matlaba, City Power, Johannesburg, 2011[78]
  • Andile Matshaya, Internal Auditor, Department of Transport, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, 2012[79]
  • Lawrence Moepi, Forensic Auditor at a private firm contracted to the Public Protector's Office, Johannesburg, 2013[80]
  • Moses Tshake, Head Auditor, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State, 2013[81]
  • Babita Deokaran, Gauteng Department of Health, 23 August 2021[82]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b ANC: A party under violent, criminal siege, Paul Trewhela, Mail & Guardian, 4 August 2012
  2. ^ Quintal, Genevieve (29 July 2012). Political Murders – It's About the Dough, SAPA,
  3. ^ a b A Provincial Concern? Political Killings in South Africa, David Bruce, SA Crime Quarterly 2013
  4. ^ a b c KZN: Anatomy of an assassination, Niki Moore, Daily Maverick, 31 July 2013
  5. ^ Local Government Elections 2016', Data Journalism Academy, August 2016
  6. ^ a b c The ANC's provincial criminal enterprises problem, by Sipho Hlongwane, The Daily Maverick, 23 July 2012
  7. ^ Power, money and the ANC: There will be blood, Mandy de Waal, The Daily Maverick, 23 January 2012
  8. ^ Why Are Political Killings Increasing in South Africa?, James Bullock, Think Africa Press, 21 October 2013
  9. ^ Murder takes party infighting to new level, Setumo Stone, Business Day, 20 July 2012
  10. ^ a b c A Culture of Political Assassination, Jane Duncan, SACSIS, 2010
  11. ^ Murder, Lies and Corruption: Mbombela and the Bequeathal of the ANC's 'Family' War, Dale T. McKinely, 9 September 2011
  12. ^ Another NFP member killed, SAPA, IOL, 18 July 2012
  13. ^ a b Quintal, Genevieve (29 July 2012). Political Murders – It's About the Dough, SAPA
  14. ^ a b KZN protest leader shot 12 times, Nkululeko Nene, Daily News, 27 June 2013
  15. ^ ANC councillors jailed for activist’s murder, Giordano Stolley, Independent Online, 20 May 2016
  16. ^ eMpembeni mirrors the scourge of mining-related assassinations in KZN, eMpembeni mirrors the scourge of mining-related assassinations in KZN, Daily Maverick, 14 September 2020
  17. ^ Government and tripartite alliance ‘no pitch’ at Marikana memorial, 18 August 2013
  18. ^ Political Assassinations are on the rise, Gareth van Olsen, "Rand Daily Mail", 20 February 2016
  19. ^ [1] Just singing and dancing? Intimidation and the manipulation of voters and the electoral process in the build-up to the 2014 elections. Community Agency for Social Enquiry, April 2014
  20. ^ Democracy and violence: the threat to South Africa’s elections, Martin Plaut, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 2 February 2018
  21. ^ [2]
  22. ^ Hlongwane, Sipho (23 July 2012). The ANC's provincial criminal enterprises problem, The Daily Maverick
  23. ^ Analysis: Meanwhile, on the killing fields of KZN, Mandy de Waal, Daily Maverick, 15 November 2012
  24. ^ Can the ANC rein in grass-roots coercion?, David Bruce, Mail & Guardian, 20 September 2013
  25. ^ SA cannot flourish in violent culture, by Imraan Buccus, The Mercury, 5 April 2013
  26. ^ Two suspects released in Mpumalanga political assassination case, Sizwe Sama Yende, City Press, 2011
  27. ^ a b c Bruce, David (7 October 2012)
  28. ^ a b Wheels of justice turn slowly as political killings escalate, David Bruce, Mail & Guardian, 26 October 2012
  29. ^ Sanctioned taxi violence poisons KwaZulu-Natal, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 19 October 2012
  30. ^ Political killings in South Africa: The ultimate intimidation, David Bruce, Institute for Security Studies, 2014
  31. ^ Life and times of a tyrant Archived 14 August 2013 at archive.today, Paddy Harper, Sunday Times, 2005
  32. ^ Quintal, Genevieve (29 July 2012). South Africa: Timeline of Reported Political Killings From 2007–2012, All Africa
  33. ^ Slain councillor was surrounded by dispute, Karishma Ganpath,, IOL, 2007
  34. ^ Moss Phakoe’s spirit must galvanise us, Zwelinzima Vavi, City Press, 22 July 2012
  35. ^ Cops hunt for killer of Sanco man, Canaan Mdletshe, Sowetan, 2009
  36. ^ a b Timeline of Reported Political Killings From 2007–2012, Quintal, Genevieve SAPA, 29 July 2012
  37. ^ Quintal, Genevieve (29 July 2012). Timeline of Reported Political Killings From 2007–2012, SAPA
  38. ^ a b c d Murders rock ANC, Paddy Harper, Mmanaledi Mataboge and Sizwe sama Yende, City Press, 29 July 2012
  39. ^ "Two suspects released in Mpumalanga political assassination case", Sizwe Sama Yende, City Press, 2011
  40. ^ a b Three arrested for the murder of eThekwini councillor, City Press, 2011
  41. ^ Darkness visible in JZ's kingdom by the sea, Niren Tolsi, Mail & Guardian, 20 July 2012
  42. ^ More ANC leaders gunned down in KZN, SABC, 10 September 2012
  43. ^ More ANC leaders gunned down in KZN, SABC, 10 September 2012]
  44. ^ Mthembeni Shezi dies of his wounds, ANC KZN, 27 September 2012
  45. ^ Murder before Mangaung, by Xolani Mbanjwa, City Press, 16 December 2012
  46. ^ Wembezi mob barricades road after ‘political’ killing, Daily News, 12 March 2013
  47. ^ ANC councillor shot dead in KZN, SAPA, 12 August 2013
  48. ^ NFP leader shot and killed in Ulundi BY NCE MKHIZE, Business Day, NOVEMBER 05 2013
  49. ^ Murdered councillor a ‘hero’ Archived 12 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lubabalo Ngcukana, City Press, 10 August 2014
  50. ^ TWEET OF THE WEEK: A culture of political violence and death BY GARETH VAN ONSELEN, Business Day 05 DECEMBER 2014
  51. ^ a b Umlazi Political Violence, Press Statement, 2006
  52. ^ 'We Don't Want Your Development', Jacques de Wet, in Rural Resistance in South Africa, Thembele Kepe & Lungisile Ntsebeza (Eds), UCT Press, 2012
  53. ^ A Culture of Political Assassination, Jane Duncan, SACSIS, 2010
  54. ^ Is the SACP still relevant?, Jeremy Cronin, The Times, 31 July 2012
  55. ^ Amnesty International South Africa Report, 2013
  56. ^ NUM branch secretary shot dead at Westplats mine, SABC, 6 October 2012
  57. ^ Cato Crest community leader gunned down, By NKULULEKO NENE, Daily News, 18 March 2013
  58. ^ Murder in KwaNdengezi, Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement, 2013
  59. ^ Another Marikana murder, NIVASHNI NAIR, The Times, 13 May 2013
  60. ^ Africa: Killed for crying foul, by Andrew England, Financial Times, 26 August 2013
  61. ^ Political intolerance behind KZN murders, Sihle Mahanda, The Mercury, 1 April 2014
  62. ^ Numsa condemns killing of its three shopstewards in Kwazulu – Natal
  63. ^ Another Abahlali baseMjondolo member assassinated, Daneel Knoetze, GroundUp, 1 October 2014
  64. ^ Lili ‘hit’ exposes ANC cracks, Warda Mayer, Cape Argus, 2014
  65. ^ Ziyanda izigameko zokubulawa kwabantu kwaNdengezi KZN Eyethu, 2014
  66. ^ TWEET OF THE WEEK: A culture of political violence and death BY GARETH VAN ONSELEN, Business Day 05 DECEMBER 2014
  67. ^ Union leader gunned down in Germiston, Shanti Aboobaker, IOL, 14 April 2015
  68. ^ Inchanga shooting: call for calm, MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA, Daily News, 27 January 2016
  69. ^ Opponent of Xolobeni titanium mine assassinated, GroundUp, 23 March 2016
  70. ^ Protests in Inchanga after ‘execution-style’ killing of SACP member, Nathi Oilifant, Times `Live, 22 August 2016
  71. ^ [Community leader shot dead after massive Khayelitsha land occupation http://abahlali.org/node/16007/], Thembela Ntongana, GroundUp, 1 June 2017
  72. ^ Statement on the Assassination of S’fiso Ngcobo, Abahlali baseMjondolo Press statement, 24 May 2017
  73. ^ Statement on the Assassination of S’fiso Ngcobo
  74. ^ Dying for Land – KZN assassinations continue, Greg Nicolson, The Daily Maverick, 25 May 2018
  75. ^ 'They left him in a pool of his blood' - Saftu wants quick arrest after activist killed, Ernest Mabuza, Times Live, 6 July 2019
  76. ^ Platinum mine tense after assassination of unionist, Masego Mafata, GroundUp, 26 August 2021
  77. ^ Quintal, Genevieve South Africa: Timeline of Reported Political Killings From 2007–2012, All Africa, 29 July 2012
  78. ^ Death of City Power procurement specialist silences staff members, CHARLES MOLELE, Mail & Guardian, 8 February 2013
  79. ^ Freedom is a killer, Njabulu S. Ndebele, City Press, 29 July 2012
  80. ^ Moepi's killing a hit:Cosatu, The Times, 21 October 2013
  81. ^ Who Killed Moses Tshake? Archived 6 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, GroundUp, Mandy de Waal and Jon Pienaar, 1 April 2014
  82. ^ SIU confirms Babita Deokaran, mowed down after dropping child at school, was a witness in the R332m PPE scandal, Ferrial Haffajee, Daily Maverick, 24 August 2021