Speaker narrowly escapes assassination attempt

A recent file photo of protestors in Bethany

There has been another attack on a public official. This time uKhahlamba Local Municipality Speaker Sthembiso Magqagqa Jili Zulu narrowly escaped death after gunmen ambushed him while he was on his way home on Monday (19 August). His vehicle was shot at 11 times. Zulu escaped with minor injuries.

The Bergville police have since opened a case of attempted murder and are following up all leads. Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has condemned the assassination attempt on Zulu.

According to police, speculation was rife that the attempt on Zulu’s life could possibly be related to continued protests in the Bethany area. A colleague who did not want to be named said: “As a council and on behalf of the entire municipality, we are thankful that there were no injuries and that the Speaker remained unharmed.”

Last week employees at the uKhahlamba Municipality were placed on high alert as several treats were levelled by protesters to burn the municipality building to the ground.

Bethany was once again overcome with protests that began earlier this month. The main road leading into the town from Bergville has since been barricaded with shards of broken bottles, burned tyres and other debris.

Bergville police opened a case of fraud after an earlier protests. Protestors alleged that the councillor promised them money after a piece of land was sold. They claimed that since the sale no money was paid to those who had an agreement with the councillor of the area.

Cogta leadership visited the area earlier this month to find a way forward, but the community said that they are “tired of the lies” and that action needs to be taking.

Hlomuka said that the spate of violence directed at councillors must stop. “We are dismayed at the news of an attempt on the life of yet another councillor in the province. The province is still licking its wounds following the brutal assassination of Councillor Mthembeni Majola from Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality in the same district.

“It pains me to even try and understand what could cause people to embark on such a senseless deed against a representative of our people. This is indeed shocking. We are finding this difficult to comprehend,” said Hlomuka.

“Violence against councillors is becoming a disturbing trend which requires urgent attention. We call on all our people to be in the forefront of protecting our councillors. Violence is deplorable and must be universally condemned”.

Hlomuka was hopeful hope that the law would take its course and that the perpetrators of this assassination attempt would be apprehended.