ASSASSINATION AT UMLAZI COURT : POLICING HEADS MUST ROLL

Glebelands resident Sipho Ndovela, a father of eight whose family lives in the impoverished Eastern Cape, was shot dead just outside the Umlazi court at about 11h00 this morning. The deceased was a key witness in a murder case set for trial in the High Court. His testimony would have implicated the alleged key warlord and extortionist in the hostel complex, linked to countless attacks and many of the estimated 25 deaths in the hostel during the past year – a warlord who appears to enjoy police protection and possibly assistance with weapons.. When Ndovela took the brave step of coming forward as a witness to the murder of Fikile Siyephu in February – an incident in which he was injured – the investigating officer (who was himself implicated in the torturing of a roman by ‘tubing’ her) effectively interfered with the course of justice by telling him to omit mention of the role of the warlord in his sworn statement because it was not relevant. Following legal advice Ndovela was to make a supplementary statement to the Umlazi police this afternoon, but was killed before he could do so. He had received threats that he would ‘not see court’ and there had already been one attempt to kill him. He was shot dead, execution style, as he stepped outside to either make or take a telephone call (he was in court facing charges relating to a brawl in a tavern in 2014). The serious danger to his life had been communicated to the police at all levels, and to the MEC. Given all the warnings police management and the MEC’s office have had, and the information which has been made available in the public arena, there is no excuse whatsoever for failing to protect potential victims. Heads must roll.
Since early 2014 human rights defender Vanessa Burger has meticulously documented incidents of violence in Glebelands, and the plight of those targeted by thugs; these victims include women with Protection Orders who have not been assisted by the police. She has put out numerous media statements, including a recent one drawing attention to the plight of witnesses – including Ndovela – who are under threat. The Daily News recently gave extensive coverage to their plight.
In 2014 letters were sent to Umlazi and Provincial management about the alleged collusion between thus and police members, torture by police members, and the presence of police issue weapon/s and ammunition by the thugs. These letters were copied to, among others, the MEC. There was no response. The killings continued, with no evidence of any fundamental steps having been taken to protect Glebelands residents, despite public announcements about almost R10 million being spent for security at the complex. As attacks continued and it was clear that the lives of certain witnesses, including Ndovela’s were in grave danger, an urgent letter was addressed to Umlazi Cluster and Station management, as well as the Provincial Commissioner and the MEC, on 21 April, pointing out their failure to act on previous letters and asking a number of public interest questions. The danger posed to witnesses – including Sipho Ndovela – was stressed, together with a request to ensure their safety. They were also advised in this letter that
Your police will be held responsible should any harm befall them since
you have all the means at our disposal to take preventive action.
This letter elicited no reponse, except from IPID who immediately requested the police to follow up on the complaints and report back to the writer. Three weeks letter there has been no report back.
Umlazi SAPS management has failed in its constitutional mandate to prevent crime and to protect the people at Glebelands, It must be replaced forthwith.
Nor can provincial management claim ignorance, given the letters copied to it and the fact that IPID too referred the Monitor’s complaint to provincial management – raising further questions about the fitness of the Provincial Commissioner to hold office. The buck stops with the MEC, who has also been apprised of the situation in Glebelands through letters copied to his office but appears to have done nothing to ensure that extremely serious Umlazi policing problems are addressed. If South Africa were truly a democracy, the honourable thing to do would be for him to resign, or at least take responsibility for the conduct of the provincial and Umlazi police. However, given the general lack of accountability, and sheer arrogance, of politicians holding important positions, that seems unlikely. Eight more poor children have joined the dozens already left fatherless because of the failure to deal ensure that Umlazi police fulfil their Constitutional mandate. Thousands of people died in this province in the cause of the liberation which gave these same politicians their positions – but liberation is a hollow victory for those who continue to die because the ANC controlled police collude with criminals.