Apartheid’s Surplus People were those millions of black South Africans who were forcibly relocated in the implementation of spatial racial segregation.  These removals caused untold suffering to families and communities. They increased poverty, and tore the social fabric apart, leaving a lasting impact on the nature of our society. However, democracy has its own surplus people – those who have been relocated since 1994, or are facing removal for mining-related activities, including in KZN. Their position is now under greater threat than ever from bills about traditional leadership and expropriation

The heart-breaking suffering caused by forced relocations was graphically described at a meeting in Durban in December 1981 attended by representatives of communities from all over KZN who were facing relocation. Among those present were representatives of Reserves 4 and 6, from which people were to be relocated, or had already been removed, to Ntambanana, inland from Empangeni. These Reserves were ‘badly situated’ for the expansion of Richards Bay and had been transferred back from the KwaZulu bantustan to South Africa. With one voice the speakers – including a widow from Mandlazini with a large family who had, with others, already been moved, spoke powerfully of their fruitless resistance to removal from their fertile coastal areas. There they had ploughed their fields, kept cattle, and produced a surplus of fruit to sell. They had always had enough water, even in times of drought.  In contrast, water was scarce in Ntambanana, and the small salt-laden river dried up in times of drought.  The soil was so poor that even white farmers with access to the Land Bank could not make a living. What were they to eat if they could not even grow sweet potatoes?

Twenty-five years into constitutional democracy, there are certain parallels between the events in Reserves 4 and 6, and the plight of people living in eMpembeni, south of Richards Bay. The main difference is that it is not the financial interests of apartheid ideology, but those of big mining business and their ‘black empowerment’ partners, which pose the threat.  Some residents have already been ‘persuaded’ to move, with minimal compensation, for titanium mining. Those living in the Gubetuko area have been told they will have to move for ‘oil’.   However, no one, including CoGTA, is telling them what these oil-related activities are. According to locals who have tried to find out, all that is known is that a company whose director is well known to soccer fans is involved, that there was talk of a ‘labour plan’, and that the area has been surveyed (including aerially).  Its precise connection with oil (and gas) is unknown, but it is likely that the area is earmarked for storage and/or refinery purposes and, probably, the expansion of the Richards Bay port. Whether these plans are connected to a reported 2015 deal about an Oil and Gas tank farm south of Mthunzini, of which there is yet no sign, is not known.

Like the area from which people were removed to Ntambanana, Gubetuko is fertile – people can subsist from the livestock they keep and the food they grow, and have surplus to sell. They are determined not to move.  They are painfully aware that neighbours who have moved are crying for their loss of land and livelihoods. They also know about the serious environmental degradation mining brings.  It may appear that they have the Constitution on their side but, as has repeatedly been shown, putting it into practice is a different matter altogether. Powerful financial interests and politicians know that most disempowered rural people lack the resources to engage the type of legal support needed to fight Big Mining.  Amidst the silence over what is planned, there have, for months, been targeted attacks by faceless hit men and many of the victims are young men, some of whom had been in hiding.  Thanks to national SAPS intervention those who are widely alleged to have sent the hitmen (who are allegedly beneficiaries of huge mining-related tenders) are in prison, and the area has been quiet since their arrests. They are known to have powerful connections, and there are fears that they may be released on bail. Making matters worse, provincial SAPS management has failed to re-deploy the additional patrols which provided a security blanket for residents and local police investigators. There is no better way of intimidating people into compliance than a campaign of terror unleased against them.

In KZN the problems start when the Ingonyama Trust Board gives leases to business concerns to operate on land it controls, so it must have given a lease for Gubetuko land.  It would also have given leases to the coal mining companies wreaking havoc in many areas, including Somkele (Mtubatuba), where people have had to move and received minimal compensation for large pieces of land they previously farmed, and where those who remain near the mines suffer serious pollution effects, including high levels of life-threatening respiratory illnesses.  Since the formation of the Board circa 2000 questions have arisen about conflict of interest issues. For example, is one of the listed directors of Zululand Anthracite Colliery the same Jerome Ngwenya who chairs the current board?

However, the Board operates in tandem with the local traditional leadership and council, which must give permission for the awarding of the lease. That is easy to arrange for all that is required is to dispense patronage to enough residents for them to buy into the ‘development’ and ‘jobs’ rhetoric. If that fails, people can be bused in to sign.  Now this so-called democratic government has reinforced feudalism in the Khoisan and Traditional Leaders bill recently rammed through parliament, giving traditional structures more power to cut deals with mining companies.

Amidst all its rhetoric about land restitution, the government is facilitating the stripping of land rights and with them the right to decent food and shelter.  Is it aware of the large numbers of children who are nutritionally, and people who go to bed hungry? The very politicians who enthuse over the supposed financial benefits of mining stood by while countless billions were looted from the country’s coffers. Our number one priority should be food security. Nor do these politicians-cum-business people evince any real concern for the environment.  Do they not understand the devastation they are wreaking on the planet by their fossil fuel greed – and that their descendants will be among those who reap the whirlwind?  The need to stop the plunder, and support the people of eMpembeni, Somkele and all affected and threatened areas, has never been greater. 


In leading opposition to attempts to move eMpembeni residents for mining-related reasons Vumani Shandu enjoys the support of many residents whose rights are threatened.  In eMpemeni, kwaDube (near Richards Bay) as in other mining-affected communities in KZN, residents’ rights are being trampled on by mining operations.  To make way for mining operations carried out by Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in kwaDube an unknown number of families were persuaded to vacate their lands and move elsewhere, allegedly with minimal compensation.  Recently, in another area around Lake Cubhu, residents have been told by persons associated with the Traditional Authority that they will need to move for ‘oil’.  They have seen what has happened to those who moved for RBM operations, and they are determined to oppose relocation, and losing their homesteads, gardens and grazing.   These residents have legal rights to the land they live on, which rights vis a vis mineral rights have recently been upheld by the Constitutional Court

Vumani Shandu was among those who, in early July 2018, were planning a public protest. However, after two men – one a close associate and the other a relative – were shot dead, and fearing for his safety, he went into hiding out of the area.  The murder of Geshege Nkwenyana on 10 July was followed by the assassination of Mthuthuko Dladla three days later.  Both men were killed while returning to eMpembeni from Richards Bay.  Further killings followed :  Khaya Ncube died on16 September and Keke Ngwane was shot dead at the Esikhawini mall in the middle of the day on 26 September.  Wiseman Hadebe died in a hail of around fifteen bullets at Ngwelezana, while waiting for a lift to work; he had left Mpembeni after a close associate had been killed and he had been warned he was also a marked man.  Mandlankosi Makhoba, chairperson of the local Small Business Association, was shot dead on 13 December.  There have been at least three other attempted murders. When Hadebe, a train driver and member of a respected local family was killed, the Empangeni SAPS  fed what eMpembeni residents claim is ‘fake news’ to the media. Allusions were made to a supposed ‘shootout’ and a ‘rumour’ that the deceased had been involved in gangsterism   The Empangeni Station Commissioner has not responded to questions requesting clarification emailed to him a month ago.

On 10th October 2018 Vumani Shandu miraculously, survived an assassination attempt in the area in which he is in hiding. Shortly before Christmas he received an anonymous text message threatening to kill him and/or his family.  The Esikhawini SAPS are to be commended for deploying patrols in the vicinity of the family home.

Various eMpembeni residents have confirmed, independently, that the only reason they have been given when told they must move is that it is for ‘oil mining’ (sometimes an overseas country is named). It is known that there has been aerial and land surveying in the area around Cubhu lake (reportedly one of those linked to the supply of water to Richards Bay). However, the only known oil-related activities relate to the application by Eni and Sasol to prospect for oil and gas nearby, but offshore.  For the past six months all attempts to find out what the plans are for the area have drawn a blank.  There have been no responses to letters to the office of the National Minister for Mineral Resources, the KZN Premier, the MEC for Finance, sundry Parliamentary Portfolio Committees in Cape Town and those sent to the provincial Head of Department and MEC for CoGTA.  The National CoGTA Minister referred the matter to the Head of his Department and a response is still awaited. The Ingonyama Trust must have given a lease for the land (King Zwelithini is said to approve of whatever is planned), but emails sent to the Board have been returned.  Unless the Trust is not briefing CoGTA about leases it is giving out, this Department must surely know what is happening, since the Traditional Authority is implicated. Is there any relationship between these events and the proposed off-shore prospecting?  Government departments have been told how serious the situation is, yet they remain silent while people continue to die.  Why this secrecy? Do they not know what their Constitutional obligations are towards those whose areas they administer?

Piecing together information from various sources, it seems that corruption lies at the heart these killings. Some of those who have died knew of gross corruption relating to tender allocation (involving work for RBM), and alleged serious corruption in the Traditional Authority, possibly linked to a payment to the Authority made by the Ingonyama Trust relating to mining income.  It is rumoured that even the local Inkosi (traditional leader) is in hiding. It is believed that the proposed new mining-related activities will bring further, extremely lucrative, business opportunities for those who have already cornered the tender market – which may be the motive for the elimination of people who are opposing moving to make way for them.

The killings are, without doubt, the work of trained hit men and strange vehicles seen in the area have false number plates. Despite the existence of sundry leads (believed to include some CCTV footage) no arrests have been reported.  Community members fear to trust the current investigators with information they have gathered and have requested national intervention. The lives of Vumani Shandu – who continues to duck and dive for cover in different locations– and his family are in grave danger. This situation, including the shroud of secrecy which envelopes it, cannot be allowed to continue : Urgent action is needed to prevent further killings.


Through the exposures of investigative journalism, and the proceedings of national government Commissions of Inquiry, South Africans learnt this year of the depths to which ‘state capture’ corruption had dragged their beloved country. In KZN the reports of the Moerane Commission and Public Protector, despite some serious shortcomings, confirmed the link between greed, corruption and politics, and their role in the killing of politicians and municipal officials. While politicians claim they will act upon the findings of the Moerane Commission report experience suggests that the findings of commissions are seldom implemented, especially if they are likely to embarrass those who are governing. While there have been some arrests and convictions for politically-linked killings this year, the failure of police management and politicians to ensure the safety of those fighting corruption shows the lack of any real commitment to rooting out this evil.

Corruption in local government enjoys some prominence because of its association with killings, especially those of councillors and senior municipal officials, but it is rife in other levels of government (grossly irregular procurement and nepotism), and many traditional authorities. In January 2018 ANC councillor Sifiso Mlambo was shot dead at his Mpembeni home (near Richards Bay), following an earlier failed attempt on his life.  Available evidence suggests that this killing was linked not to ANC politics but to alleged gross corruption in structures associated with the local traditional authority that he (and others targeted) have tried to address.  As the killings of political activists, office bearers and municipal officials continued, the announcement in May by newly appointed Minister of Police Bheki Cele that police investigators from outside of the province would be deployed was widely welcomed, since very few breakthroughs have been made by local task teams. Of the 22 deaths in the run up to the 2016 local government elections, only one court case is known to be in progress. A noticeable exception is the success of dedicated local detectives working on Glebelands cases who, in the past year, have secured the first convictions of hit men linked to the carnage in the hostel complex.  Several arrests have been made for the killing of politicians since the new task team started operating but the quality of the evidence, and whether those arrested are found guilty. remains to be seen. Of the fifty plus politically-linked murders since early 2016 (including around eleven in 2018, and excluding those in Glebelands) there are no reported convictions.  Cases of gross corruption – such as those exposed by ANC corruption-busters in the Sisonke and Harry Gwala municipalities in 2016, and under investigation since then –  have dragged on for years. At the root of this failure to bring criminals to book is police incompetence and corruption, the failure of IPID to deal with it, and easy access to guns and hit men, in which the taxi industry plays a pivotal role. The Moerane Commission findings skirted around these core issues.

Despite the government anti-corruption rhetoric, the conduct of provincial and national government representatives suggests otherwise.  For example, a 2017 KZN Treasury forensic report details Department of Health’s provincial management’s gross violation of Treasury regulations and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Despite these violations being linked to the scandalous failure of the provincial department to maintain almost new state-or-the-art oncology machines, leading to the unnecessary deaths of countless of cancer patients, no criminal charges are known to have been opened (i.e. for breaking PFMA and the Combating of Corrupt Activities Act).  Cancer patients die while the provincial Department of Health has had a qualified audit for several years running and incurring irregular expenditure of billions of rand annually.  If it transpires that the Member of Executive Committee for Health, Dr S Dhlomo, did not open criminal cases against those named in the forensic report, he himself would be presumed guilty of breaking the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.   In terms of the Constitution, the Premier of the province, and other executive members to whom this corruption was drawn, would also probably be culpable.

Government’s failure to implement the recommendations of the Public Protector, in her report released in August 2018, sends out a very clear message that fighting corruption is likely to be a death sentence.  When he was shot in 2017, and subsequently died, ANC activist Sindiso Magaqa, was working to expose gross corruption involving renovations to the Umzimkhulu Memorial Hall.  His close comrade friends Les Stuta and Thabiso Zulu picked up the baton and spoke out about his endeavours, with Zulu subsequently giving evidence about that, and other politically-linked corruption, at the Moerane Commission.  The death threats then started. The Public Protector investigated the matter of the hall and the threats to Stuta and Zulu arising from it and, in a report released in mid-December, confirmed that, among other things, proper procurement procedures had been breached, and millions of rand of irregular expenditure had been incurred.  Her earlier report, in August, had taken into account that independent security threat assessments by state agencies had confirmed that the lives of Stuta and Zulu were in danger. The Minister and National Commissioner of Police were instructed to ensure that the two men were provided with the security recommended following the threat analysis, at state expense. The Minister and Commissioner have ignored this instruction, and, despite an appeal to parliament – to whom they are responsible – in October, no security has been provided for them.  Their lives remain in grave danger, probably from their own comrades at whom they have pointed fingers.

Compare the situation of Stuta and Zulu with that of investigative journalists in Italy who are provided with police protection when under threat. Could there be a clearer message – from government itself – that exposing corruption should be avoided if one wants to stay alive?  Should any harm befall Stuta and Zulu it is at the same government that the fingers will be pointed.


The release of the latest annual SAPS crime statistics confirmed what South Africans already knew: Violent crime is out of control, with a daily average of 57 murders country-wide, 12 of which are in KwaZulu-Natal. Shortly before these figures were released, a local, much-loved musician, Simon Milliken, was stabbed, and left to die, in a Durban nature reserve. Milliken’s death, like so many others, is an indictment of the poor governance and the gross mismanagement of policing which are key contributing factors to rising levels of violent crime. Simon Milliken’s death, like so many others, should not be in vain, but should serve as a wake-up call to SAPS and eThekwini management to get their houses in order in preventing and responding to violent crime.

Simon Milliken and a visiting conductor of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr Perry So were watching birds in the Burman Bush nature reserve during the afternoon of 31 August when they were confronted by an armed man demanding their valuables. They fled in different directions after Milliken had refused to comply with the assailant’s demands, and Milliken’s body was found the following morning. He had been stabbed and had died of his injuries. Prior to this incident it was well known that there had this reserve had been plagued by muggings because it was easily accessed by criminals through gaping holes in the fence. There is evidence – including that gathered by a committee researching farm violence in the early 2000s – that criminals who get away with committing less serious crimes may end up killing people. It should have been obvious that it was only a matter of time before someone was seriously injured, raped and/or killed, but the eThekwini municipality had taken no steps to restrict access by repairing the fencing and ensuring that there were trained security personnel on duty during visiting hours. There were not even any operative Flying Squad or Metro police numbers in the reserve’s office, which had the telephone number of the Westville SAPS and not those of stations much nearer. Nor, despite its status as a crime ‘hot spot’ is there any evidence of any effective crime prevention strategy on the part of police stations under which the reserve falls.

The response by the SAPS following the initial report during the late Friday afternoon that Milliken was missing is shocking – particularly as it appears from autopsy results that he would have remained alive, and possibly in great pain, for an unknown period following the stabbing.
When, after a considerable delay, police arrived at the reserve they appeared ill-equipped for searching in the fading light, and, for some inexplicable reason they did not bring dogs to assist with the search, despite both SAPS and Metro police having K9 units. They seemed reluctant to search in the dark and announced they would return at daybreak. They did not do so. On the following morning, sometime after 07h00 John Roome and his wife were walking in the reserve when they found Milliken’s body. They notified the reserve office personnel who telephoned Westville SAPS who in turn reported the matter to Durban Central SAPS. Their response was fairly prompt, but they said that since the area fell under Mayville SAPS that station should be called (they did not have notebooks and had to rummage in the bag of the deceased for a paper and pencil). None of the police who attended the scene knew about the SAPS having been called the previous evening to search for the missing man. The official SAPS response – that the Search and Rescue Unit had responded and searched the area until very late on the Friday, and had returned to the scene at first light the following day, subsequent to which the body had been found, has been contradicted by those present on the Friday night and Saturday morning – which begs questions about the accuracy of public information provided by the SAPS. However, encouragingly there as been a positive response to detailed questions sent to SAPS management, and senior police members have been appointed to investigate the complaint. The police have also clarified that one of the problems that the police searching the area faced late on the Friday afternoon was that there is more than one entrance to the reserve, and they had not been given sufficiently accurate information about which entrance had been used, and which paths had been taken, by the deceased and his companion. To complicate matters further, the top end of the reserve (i.e. near North Ridge Road) falls under one policing jurisdiction, and the other end, which is nearer to the centre of Durban, falls under another.

While the circumstances surrounding the death of Simon Milliken have been used as an example, his is by no means the only death which could probably have been prevented had policing been functioning effectively. In July twelve taxi drivers were massacred while travelling in the Weenen area. It is alleged that police management had been warned about the likelihood of this attack but had not followed up on the information. It is all very well for the National Minister and Commissioner to express outrage at rising crime levels, but little is likely to change without a shake-up of management, and a complete revamp of crime intelligence and detective services. The question is, do they have the will to do away with the nepotism which leads to promotion beyond competence levels and political interference in policing?
Nor should the culpability of the eThekwini municipality be overlooked. Since Milliken’s death It has moved rapidly to secure the reserve with fencing and better guarding, but why did it take a murder for it to act? Burman reserve is not the only one in Durban in which there are realistic concerns about the safety of visitors and those using paths next to roads outside of fenced areas, which should be cleared of vegetation to stop people scaling fences. Earlier this year the headless body of a woman was found inside the fence in Pigeon Valley, Glenwood. Neighbouring paths used by pedestrians are overgrown with vegetation, making it easy for a body to be disposed of this way – and endangering the safety of all those walking past the reserve, including university students. These concerns can easily be addressed by ensuring that fencing is adequate to ensure controlled access, and the deployment of well-trained, properly vetted, guards who can immediately access emergency assistance from nearby police.
The suggestion from eThekwini municipality that CCTV cameras be installed in nature reserves is ridiculous, given the nature of the terrain. These cameras have served little purpose in preventing violence in the Glebelands hostel complex, and the Passenger Rail Service cameras have not worked for the past three years. There are serious questions about whether those who monitor them are themselves trustworthy. The tendency of the municipality to resort to the use of CCTV cameras when there are better ways of fighting crime also raises questions about who is benefitting from the procurement process.
While the response of the municipality is ‘better late than never’ its failure to act before someone was killed suggests its priorities are badly skewed. These areas are vital ‘green lungs’ for Durban and should be integral to providing environmental education for young people. Perhaps the mayor should earmark some of the millions of rand she is squandering on dubious projects which are unlikely to lead to anything of lasting value for ensuring that all of Durban’s green areas are safe for everyone, and for educating youth about the value of their environmental heritage.
KZN Monitor would like to thank SAPS management for losing no time in launching an investigation into the failure of the police to initiate crime prevention strategies in the area and their tardy and uncoordinated response to the report that Milliken was missing after a criminal attack. Hopefully the death of Simon Milliken will lead to action which prevents further criminal incidents in the beautiful green areas in Durban


Despite its political rhetoric about land restitution, including by expropriation without compensation, the government is turning a blind eye to continuing dispossession, and the violence accompanying it. In Xolobeni, Eastern Cape, the anti-mining sector continues to stand firm, despite the murder of a leader, attacks and threats. In KwaZulu-Natal people in rural communities opposing mining not only have to deal with traditional leadership seduced by mining companies, but with the Ingonyama Trust. The Trust ignores its mandate to act in the interests of communities, and grants leases which impact negatively on them. Despite government contestation, it has also claimed mining royalties.
Rural communities around Mtubatuba, Mthunzini and Richards Bay suffer the consequences of coal or titanium mining, including land dispossession, polluted water, and respiratory illnesses. In the area bordering on the iSimangaliso World Heritage site Eyamakhosi Resources (Pty) Ltd has recently applied for prospecting rights for rare earth minerals. Reportedly, there arere are plans to dig a deep well to store a huge quantity of carbon gas emissions on traditional land south of Kosi Bay. Urgent answers, and interventions, are needed about events in Mpembeni, south of Richards Bay, where people are resisting moving to make way for what they have been told are oil-related developments. At least four people have been killed in the past two and a half months and killers may strike again at any time.

Mpembeni is part of the KwaDube traditional authority area where RBM (Richards Bay Minerals) has been mining titanium and rare earth minerals for the past few years. However, last year men described as being from ‘overseas’ were seen surveying another part of Mpembeni and taking aerial photographs. Locals have been told that some of the residents will need to move from their homes for mining-related activities, for which the king has given his approval. Traditional authority structures are allegedly divided and riven by corruption, which locals claim is linked to the death of ANC official Sifiso Mlambo in January 2018.
There are no known oil-related activities in this area apart from an application by EMI and Sasol to prospect off-shore, which is nowhere near finalisation. So, what is going on? Despite concerted attempts to obtain information no one is telling. An initial letter sent to provincial and national government departments on 5 July, and further follow up letters – especially to CoGTA in KZN – remain unanswered. Emails to the Ingonyama Trust were returned to the sender.
The killings started four days after the first letter was sent, when Geshege Nkwanyana was shot dead on 10 July. Ntuthuko Dladla’s murder followed three days later. These deaths bore the hallmark of the deployment of trained hitmen, including surveillance of the victims – as have subsequent deaths. On 16 September Khaya Ncube was shot dead, and two days later another man opposed to moving (Ngcobo) narrowly missed being killed. On 26 September Keke Ngwane was shot dead at lunch time at the nearby Esikhawini shopping mall (this pattern, of tracking people down and killing them in public places has also characterised many politically-linked killings).
The common thread in these attacks and continuing threats to associates of the deceased is that they all involve residents who oppose moving. They know that those who were persuaded by RBM to move for the titanium mining have been financially short-changed, and they do not want to lose the precious land on which they grow food and keep livestock. They are also angry that some of the KwaDube land ‘belongs’ to prominent politicians who have been given leases to it. They remain determined not to move but, not knowing who will be next, they are terrified of the hidden forces waging a war of attrition against them. Who are they? What is it about their land that people are killed to gain possession of it?

The biggest stumbling block to transparency about developments on traditional land in KZN is the Ingonyama Trust, which makes a great deal of money issuing leases for land for which constitutional rights are vested in its residents. Not only was this land, historically, not ‘owned’ (in the modern commercial sense) by the king, but much of the Trust land was never part of the historic Zulu kingdom. Traditional leadership is divided in support for the Trust, but opponents dare not speak out. However, some autocratic leaders lacking any sense of accountability, and sometimes in collusion with corrupt local government officials, may take decisions which are not in the interests of their subjects – especially given huge inducements offered by mining companies. It is their subjects who then suffer and receive no support from the government. That is what is happening in many parts of KZN where mining is taking place, or where the threat of mining looms. The Trust has presumably given a lease to some entity to engage in further mining-related operations in KwaDube (and in KwaSokhulu near iSimangaliso, and in KwaTembe) but their decisions are opaque. The actions of the Trust create the impression that it is a law unto itself, despite it being subject to parliament, the government, and the Constitution. Does the Trust not realise that by maintaining a veil of secrecy it facilitates the actions of whoever is behind the killings – especially as there are probably many well-connected people with vested interests in whatever is planned for this area?
The same applies to provincial and national government departments which presumably know why people are being told they will need to move. People who were planning public protest in July have been cowed into silence. Covert forces are sending a clear message that it is dangerous to oppose moving, yet government departments have refused to provide information to which KwaDube residents, and the public, are entitled in terms of Section 32 of the Constitution? Why?
Collusion in dispossessing people of their land exposes the hypocrisy of the government’s land restitution rhetoric – and inevitably invites comparisons with colonial and apartheid dispossession.


A recent report by the office of the Public Protector has confirmed what has been known for almost a year, for security assessments undertaken by State agencies in December 2017 found that the lives of anti-corruption fighters Thabiso Zulu and Les Stuta are in grave danger. The report censures Minister of Police Bheki Cele, accusing him of gross negligence and, among other things, orders both him and the national commissioner of police to immediately provide the two men with the ‘requisite security at state expense’. The response by the Minister has been to refuse the men protection because he has decided to take the matter on judicial review. The failure of the Minister to provide security for two men who have risked their own safety and that of their families, even if he is proceeding with a review, is extraordinary and inexplicable. He is the minister responsible for ensuring that the police fulfil their constitutional obligations to prevent crime. However, his role cannot be distanced from that of the policies of the ANC government of which he is part, and the silence of his colleagues suggests that there is tacit approval for his course of action. Among his colleagues in this province are those in influential positions who know well, from their own personal experience, what it is like to live in constant danger of attack. and among those of them who bear moral responsibility for the plight of these two men is the Premier, Willies Mchunu. It is he who set up the Moerane Commission of Inquiry, yet he has failed to take any action to ensure the protection of those who answered his call to come forward with evidence.

Les Stuta and Thabiso Zulu drew media attention to themselves by speaking out at the funeral of their close friend and political ally Councillor Sindiso Magaqa in September 2017, when they linked the assassination attempt which had led to his death to his enquiries into apparent gross corruption to the tune of around R37 million allocated for the refurbishment of the uMzimkhulu Memorial hall. This matter became the subject of an investigation by the office of the Public Protector. Zulu then went on to give evidence which received considerable media attention, including about the same matter, to the Moerane Commission; he has also, according to media reports, been involved in other corruption-busting activities, including in Pietermaritzburg Howick and Harry Gwala municipalities. By November 2017 it had become clear that both men were under threat, and the Moerane Commission and police management were apprised of the situation and requested to take remedial action. The matter has dragged on since then, despite the security assessment having been completed months ago. They have both reported sinister incidents which have led to them taking constant evasive action – e.g. moving from one place to another – and relying on the assistance of friends to ensure some sort of protection such as safe accommodation. In May 2018 the international organisation FrontLine Defenders, which is dedicated to assisting human rights defenders, sent out an Urgent Appeal drawing attention to the threats to Thabiso Zulu after they had intensified but it elicited no response or remedial action from government.

Endemic, gross corruption is stealing money which is desperately needed to provide services to the poor, whose situation continues to deteriorate as the cost of living climbs. It is also destroying our nascent democracy, especially when people dare not speak out to expose it because they risk being killed. Stuta and Zulu are exceptions to this rule, and, if the government was serious about wanting to stamp out corruption, they should be held up as heroes in this fight, starting with affording them the protection they urgently need.

The refusal to grant them this protection suggests that government leaders have no wish to expose corruption. They themselves are protected, at obscene costs to the taxpayers, by phalanxes of bodyguards which they may not even need, given that this type of protection is deemed a status symbol (and rumours are that in some cases, men are bodyguards by day and hitmen by night). What is truly extraordinary is that provincial leadership figures, including the Premier Willies Mchunu, Deputy ANC Provincial Chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu, and Chairperson of the Provincial Portfolio Committee, Bheki Ntuli, seem to have conveniently forgotten what it was like to live under the type of threat that Les Stuta and Thabiso Zulu are now facing. As trade unionists in the 1990s they and their families were either under threat, or, in the case of Ntuli, suffered attacks and killings of close family members. International actions spearheaded by Amnesty International were undertaken for them – but now they are comfortably ensconced in government international opinion, and even the very real dangers faced by their own political colleagues, appears of no consequence. They and their other colleagues are surely aware of the situation in which Stuta and Zulu find themselves, as it is receiving wide media coverage. It is time for them, and all those in senior positions in the party and in government, to bring pressure to bear on the Minister of Police to do the right thing and ensure protection for Les Stuta and Thabiso Zulu as, ordered by the Public Protector – for in the event of any harm befalling them the guilt for failing to act will be collective.


In a province where intimidation, and fear of violent crime, is widespread, war talk by supporters of the Zulu king over suggestions that the Ingonyama Trust be scrapped, and the discovery of several undetonated explosive devices, have increased concerns about personal safety. Threats of war, and the planting of explosive devices, raise questions about access to weaponry. Research in the early 2000s showed that dozens of caches of weapons in the province in the 1980s and 1990s had never been accounted for. Among these caches were consignments of weapons which had been part of the arsenal of the notorious Vlakplaas security police hit squad base, and their removal to KZN had been organised by former Vlakplaas commander Eugene de Kock in late 1993. These consignments have been described as ‘enough weapons to start a civil war’. Where are these weapons, and why has there never been any proper investigation about their whereabouts, and prosecution of those responsible for the delivery?

According to the TRC, six ten-ton KwaZulu government trucks were used to transport the estimated 70 tons of weapons to a complex at Ulundi where security policeman and then IFP representative Phillip Powell lived, where they were hidden before being moved elsewhere. These weapons included over a thousand hand grenades, almost three thousand rifle grenades 200 shrapnel mines, thousands of AK47 and rifle rounds, anti-tank mines, and anti-personnel mines, RPG rockets and rocket launchers and over 500 kg of explosives. There were plans to acquire further weapons from the apartheid government armoury, but it is not known if they ever materialised.

The context in which these weapons were acquired was one of greatly intensified violence in the province which, by April 1994 had theatened to erupt into civil war if the demands of the IFP and its ultra conservative allies for more devolution of powers to regions were not met. The threats of escalated violence led to some concessions being made by the main negotiating partners (co-incidentally, it was in this context that the Ingonyama Trust Act was passed and, because KwaZulu was a ‘self-governing’ homeland, approved by then President de Klerk). Investigations by the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) revealed Phillip Powell was conducting paramilitary training at the Mlaba camp, near Mahlabatini, which was stopped after a visit to the camp by members of the task group set up by the TEC. The large quantity of weapons discovered there may have included some from Vlakplaas (but there were also many other police issue weapons around then). Training in warfare techniques was alleged to have included the construction of home-made bombs and the sabotaging of vehicles. According to the TEC report, the training and weaponry may have provided elements within the IFP and KwaZulu government with the capacity for large-scale insurrection. However, following the eleventh-hour agreement by the IFP to participate in elections, and with the post April 1994 emphasis on reconciliation, no prosecutions took place.

Shortly before South Africa’s second democratic elections in 1999, in a context of widespread violence (there were around 4000 deaths between May 1994 and the end of 1998), and allegations of continued paramilitary training,- a team of investigators from the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) unearthed a large cache of weapons at a bunker at Nquthu, northern KZN. There were unsubstantiated reports that Phillip Powell had provided information about the weapons. Despite a controlled explosion being used to destroy the cache it was estimated that there were still around 64 tons of the Vlakplaas weapons unaccounted for. While there was talk of Powell being tried for treason, and reports of an arrest warrant having been issued, he left the country in the early 2000s. The then head of Scorpions, Bulelani Ngcuka, referred to Powell as a ‘scapegoat’ and said in 2001 he wanted to find other conspirators behind the acquisition of the weapons.

Seventeen years later there is no evidence that any effort has been made to find the ‘other conspirators’, even although the names of people other than Powell who probably have information are known. Nor has any effort been made to locate all the other known caches, including the ANC’s Operation Vula weapons. Where are they now? Have some of them been used in political and/or taxi violence, or cash-in-transit heists, or any of the other violent crimes which terrorise South Africans? Are some of them still in the province and, if so, where? The failure of the democratic government to pursue the recovery of all these weapons seems nothing short of criminal, given the threat they pose to human lives. Given the current volatile state of KZN the recovery of all these caches, or whatever remains of them, calls for the immediate deployment of a team of police of proven competence, including ballistic experts, from outside of the province, to conduct thorough investigations into the unaccounted for arsenals. The public needs reassurance that these weapons cannot be retrieved to wage war.

Selected references :
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Reports : Volume 2, 1998, pp 605-610) and Volume 6 Section 3
Pauw, J 1997 Into the Heart of Darkness Johannesburg : Jonathan Ball
Interim Report by the Commission of Inquiry regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation on criminal political violence by elements within the South African Police, the KwaZulu Police and the Inkatha Freedom Party, dated 18 March 1994
The Scorpions : A Frankenstein Monster? 2003 www.violencemonitor/p=180


April 1994 promised freedom and democracy but this promise remains unrealised because of government corruption and the secrecy used to try and conceal it. Away from the spotlight of Nkandlagate and Guptagate ongoing endemic corruption continues to kill people in different ways and is also killing the democracy we are still trying to build. While corruption was part and parcel of the apartheid state, the first few years of democracy held some promise of greater transparency, which is lifeblood of democracy. This transparency has steadily decreased, especially over the past decade, with an increasingly unaccountable government ignoring its own legislation and the Constitution which informs it.

The very nature of the government which has developed since 1994 facilitates corruption. Increasingly the proportional representation system, viewed as a counter to the constituency gerrymandering of the Nationalist government, has thwarted democracy. Deep rot has taken root in grassroot level party structures where threat, intimidation and even death may result from contestations over candidacy. That is because the economic stakes are high, with candidates who are successful in elections (even if unemployable in an open labour market) gaining access to well-paying jobs and’, with them, business opportunities, especially tenders.
Nepotism is the handmaiden of corruption and political allies are employed in high positions in increasingly inflated – and inefficient – government bureaucracies. Owing their jobs to their patrons, beneficiaries of nepotism become puppets to their benefactors’ will, including by carrying out instructions from, and covering for, elected politicians who should not be interfering in the civil (or increasingly uncivil) service. Corruption busters inside or outside of government live in fear of their lives. Currently the Chief Financial Officer of Richmond is facing 92 charges, including theft and money laundering. Co-incidentally, the man thought to have initiated the investigation, Richmond manager Sibusiso Sithole, was gunned down in March 2017.
Some forms of gross government corruption kill more slowly. Millions of rand of government money set aside for the maintenance of the Addington oncology machines remains publicly unaccounted for, while an unknown number of patients with easily treatable cancer have died slow, painful deaths because they have been unable to access radiotherapy treatment. While an estimated fourteen million South Africans go to bed hungry, and 27 per cent of children are stunted, corruption in school feeding schemes is rife. Corruption in the Ministry of Water Affairs and Sanitation deprives people of access to clean water, and – like inadequate nutrition – increases their vulnerability to life-threatening illnesses.

Too much taxpayers’ money goes on too many levels of over-staffed government and all the unnecessary perks that go with it. One of former president Jacob Zuma’s parting gifts was a R1,2 billion bill for backpay for izinduna (headmen). For historical reasons KZN has a large number of them so this largesse will mean a cut back in other services for years. Like some politicians and amakhosi, headmen may receive money for breaking the law, like one in Mpumuza(Hilton) who has locked the public gate which allows residents access to the main road and has turned the only other access – a footpath – into a grazing area for his cattle. Taxpayer supported authoritarianism rules in rural areas and attempts to democratise the colonial system of traditional leadership face an uphill battle. It also rules in urban areas where most councillors remain unaccountable to their constituencies and fail to consult with them.
COGTA should be ensuring that traditional leadership adheres to the provisions of the Constitution, but Monitor records reflect its abject failure to do so, as in the case of the induna at Mpumuza. In Matiwane’s Kop, a land restitution area controlled by a trust, COGTA employees have allegedly been bullying trustees to accept as a ‘chief’ a man who has been terrorising the community, despite the area being freehold.
The police, too, have failed the Mpumuza and Matiwane’s Kop residents – just as they have failed so many victims of crime, including that linked to politics. Like all dysfunctional government departments, the problem starts with management and the way it is linked to politics and nepotism. There are far too many people at this level and, with exceptions, most of them are not fit to manage. Relatively junior members risk their lives to fight well-armed criminals (some armed with police issue guns because of poor management), or doggedly investigate dangerous cases despite being under-resourced, while the province has six deputy provincial commissioner generals (there was at most one in the 1990s), and their spokespeople (whose information may not even be accurate) are at the rank of colonel or brigadier. The same applies to the Department of Health, where there is a chronic shortage of medical personnel and an over-inflated and grossly inefficient bureaucracy.
Because nepotism rules these bureaucracies lack the independence which is a crucial component of democratic governance. Since they need to cover for their corruption and inefficiency they have, for the past decade, been making it increasingly difficult for citizens to access information held by the state, as is their right in terms of Section 32 of the Constitution. Most lack the courtesy to respond to emails, and the quality of information on government websites, including contact details for state functionaries, has deteriorated. Compared to the first fifteen of democracy, the quality of our government has deteriorated markedly and become increasingly opaque.

Like a breath of fresh air, a prompt response by the revamped Presidency to a media release about Department of Health corruption raises hopes that the tide may slowly be turning. Hopefully the recent conviction of Bulwer area PR councillor Magaso for violation of the Public Service Act will be the first of many, and the prosecutions and recent convictions linked to the Glebelands carnage is encouraging. The Public Service Commission, the Treasury and Auditor-General, and the Criminal Justice Cluster have their work cut out for them – but it is ultimately up to the public to ensure that they are up to the job.


‘The relocation and redistribution of land process took a staggering blow with the unexpected and secretive passing of the KwaZulu INgonyama Trust Act which was passed by the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly and assented to by President de Klerk on 25 April 1994……….’
Cohen, T in Human Rights Yearbook 1995 (1996:144)

Amidst threats of violence, a political storm is brewing following an announcement by the central government of its intention to amend or do away with the Ingonyama Trust Act. Denials by the F W de Klerk Foundation and former IFP leader Prince Buthelezi that the legislation was passed secretly are disingenuous. The matter had not been canvassed with the Nationalist Party’s main CODESA negotiator, the ANC. The context was one in which the IFP, in partnership with ultra conservative groupings, was making unrealistic demands about devolution of powers to regions, and, with unprecedented levels of violence, and the party refusing to participate in the elections of 27 April until the eleventh hour, there were fears of an intensified civil war in the region. Furthermore, since 1992 there had been reports that the then government was secretly planning to transfer large areas of land to homeland governments, despite agreements reached at CODESA, and legislation passed in 1993 had given President de Klerk what lawyers had described as ‘extraordinary powers’ to bypass parliament in matters pertaining to the self-governing homelands.

The recent proposals are made in the interests of promoting the land rights of rural residents, so it is not clear why they should be pose a threat, save to Board members and staff benefitting financially from the income of the Trust. The great respect and prestige enjoyed by King Zwelithini has nothing to do with the existence of the Trust (which is widely resented by his subjects). The Act itself appears clearly unconstitutional since it discriminates against black people living in KZN as opposed to those living in other provinces where such Trusts do not exist. Nor is there any good reason why only one of the various kings in South Africa should be the sole trustee of a Land Trust. Historically, this land was not ‘owned’ in the modern commercial sense by traditional leaders or kings, for relationships to land were of a different order in the pre-colonial era. The Trust’s claim to nominal ownership of the land through Zulu customary law is seriously flawed.

The Trust has, with impunity, breached the provisions of its governing Act, which stipulates that it must be administered for the benefit, material welfare and well being of the areas it controls. In 1991 rural residents in the far north of the province near Mbazwane discovered that, unbeknown to them, the Trust had granted a lease to a local traditional leader to operate a private game reserve in partnership with outside business interests. To that end, he fenced the area off and evicted residents from their ancestral homes – and arranged for local police to arrest them if they returned to engage in their subsistence activities. All appeals to the Trust failed and it was only through concerted opposition by the community, and various court actions – including an interdict against the chief – that residents eventually won the right to remain in their homes. The area, like some of the others falling under the Trust, had never been part of the historic Zulu kingdom.

In 2008 the KZN government and a traditional leader reportedly entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a Dubai-based investor for a massive tourism development in the eMacambini area near Mandeni. The deal fell through, so no lease was issued by the Trust, but it did lease the land to Hulett Tongaat, without consulting with affected community members, including those who had been given the land when they were removed from Mangete in the 1970s. As usual, the consultation had been with the local traditional leader who controlled the community trust set up. This same leader, notorious for terrorising his own subjects and driving them off their land, while orchestrating illegal land invasions and general mayhem in nearby Mangete, was subsequently appointed to the Board of the Trust.

Commonage land, especially in peri-urban Trust areas, is being allocated to outsiders for building purposes, decreasing the land available to long established residents. The rights of these residents are protected in law by the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA). Now the Trust is trying to persuade residents on traditional land to sign leases (allegedly written in English), which would involve paying annual rent for land they already have rights to. If they default on rent they could be evicted.

The Trust has also claimed mining royalties as revenue, compounding problems experienced by communities opposing mining because of the social and environmental damage it does (However, the Trust’s allocation of mining royalties was one of the reasons its most recent audit was a qualified one). In the 2016/2017 period the Trust Board signed a long term lease deal with RBM Richards Bay Minerals) to mine 10 000 hectares in the Mthunzini area, boasting about it empowering communities. Community members feel otherwise : They complain of polluted water, cracked houses, and health problems.

Despite the excessive cost to taxpayers of rural government, with its top down provincial, municipal and traditional structures, there is little in the way of true development, because consultation and input from residents is generally lacking. The Trust is part of this broader problem, and its existence serves no purpose whatsoever in alleviating the plight of the poorest of the poor.
Hopefully sanity will prevail and the Trust will enter into discussions with the government about the way forward. Any talk of war, regardless of where it emanates from, is to be condemned. Public marching with traditional weapons is illegal, and if defenders of the Trust take to the streets armed SAPS management and politicians will be held to account if the law does not take its course.


Despite the divisions within the ANC the dominant rhetoric of the governing party continues to focus on radical economic transformation and the expropriation of land without compensation. This rhetoric should fool no one: The only people likely to benefit from such moves are those who already enjoy a surfeit of political and economic power, not the majority of South Africans who are poor. The human rights of people dependent on state services – including those relating to health, safety and justice – are constantly trampled on by representatives of a bloated and increasingly unaccountable government. Without a growth in awareness of how dire the situation has become, and organised civil action, a further erosion of rights is likely.

The massive housing backlog, and the appalling state of apartheid-era hostels, should provide the government with an ideal opportunity to empower shack and hostel dwellers with skills to enable them to upgrade and maintain the settlements or buildings in which they live. It chooses instead to award huge tenders to the politically well connected, and then dispense patronage in the form of RDP houses to win political support. Similarly, in awards for public transport it is the politically well-connected who benefit. Taxi operations are being affected by the much-vaunted ‘Go Durban’ scheme, from which politically favoured operators are allegedly benefiting. Since colonial times the informal liquor sector has been the key driver in promoting entrepreneurship and overcoming poverty. However, the largest taverns in Pietermaritzburg and certain provincial towns are now allegedly operated by one of the country’s major BRICS partners. There are unconfirmed reports that rural residents – whose indigenous land rights are already under threat from mining – are being instructed by the Department of Agriculture to compromise their own food security by growing soya. People who lodged land claims in the 1990s receive no feedback from the Department handling them and some suspect that their land is being given to non-claimants. Allegedly, most politicians own farms themselves.

While a Commission of Inquiry chaired by Advocate Moerane heard evidence about political violence, the murder of politically-connected people, including senior municipal employees, continued. Since the beginning of 2016 there have been approximately 44 killings (14 in 2017) which appear linked to politics. These figures exclude the approximate 100 deaths since March 2014 in Glebelands hostels. Most victims have been ANC-aligned, with evidence that the deaths of some are connected to their opposition to corruption. Those who are fighting to expose corruption remain under threat of death. Of grave concern is that there is that killers are evidently well trained, and that victims and potential victims are subject to surveillance, including through the interception of electronic communications. If this is happening the strict laws governing surveillance are being broken with impunity – which would also explain the failure of the police to arrest and charge well trained and armed hitmen. While there have been some arrests in connection with the deaths since January 2016, and at least one matter is proceeding in court, there have been no convictions. That a conviction for one of the Glebelands murders was finally obtained is thanks to the perseverance and diligence of investigating officers working under difficult conditions and a shortage of resources. Similarly, although a great deal of evidence has been made available to investigators and prosecutors about the type of corruption in government, which whistle-blowers are risking their lives in exposing, there is a dearth of prosecutions, amidst allegations that prosecutions are blocked by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). While good police and prosecutors struggle on it is the management of the police and prosecution services which must take responsibility for the atrociously low rate of conviction for serious crimes, including those linked to politics.
A less obvious, but crucial, factor in obstructing the course of justice is the dysfunctionality of forensic mortuary services. The gross mismanagement of these services by DoH in the province started with the appointment of the current Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Health, who allegedly colluded with workers who refused to be trained (as required by law), and engaged in illegal strikes and criminal actions. As a consequence, the service is left with only inexperienced pathologists (or, in a crime epicentre of Pietermaritzburg, none at all) with extremely serious consequences for justice.

The callous conduct of government representatives and Departmental management exposed by the Commission of Inquiry into the Life Esidumeni deaths in Gauteng is characteristic of the treatment of cancer patients by the KZN executive members and Department of Health (DoH) management. Patients who had waited inordinately long periods for life saving radiotherapy at Addington hospital continued to die as the two oncology machines remained out of order for the fifth consecutive year. Despite a report released in June by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), which ordered that machines be repaired and patients receive treatment, it seems that only residents of the North Coast area are benefitting from a Public Private Partnership entered into by the Department of Health in the Empangeni region. There has been a noticeable clamp down on information by the DoH, which is also refusing to give patents their medical records (which are patients’ property).
The MEC has consistently supplied misleading information to the legislature. He has been protected by the national minister who has also failed to disclose important information to the national parliament. In his September presentation when he blamed the crisis on unskilled employees, singling out for particular criticism Health Technology Services (HTS). In doing so he swept under the parliamentary carpet a crucial forensic report by KZN Treasury which showed that the awarding of a contract to a service provider, KZN Oncology, which was not legally allowed to service the machines not only breached various provisions of national legislation and Treasury regulations but was done wilfully by people in management positions, including the Head of Department (HoD) – and that it was the Health Technology Services, which had been deliberately by-passed, which had refused to condone it. For refusing to comply with what are widely believed political instructions the HTS Department has, according to the Minister, been stripped of its role in procurement, and the whole procurement process (widely associated with corrupt practices) has become even more opaque.
Nor did the National Minister, when briefing parliament about procurement problems, refer to another highly irregular contract for R2,5 billion signed in 2015, by the then Acting Head of Department (Dr Simelane), with Resultant Finance. This contract committed the Department to obtaining any medical equipment worth more than R5 000 other than that it leased from Resultant Finance. It is not clear whether the existence of this contract is impacting upon the servicing of oncology equipment, including scanners which are frequently out of order (another impediment to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients). Apparently the Department wishes to terminate this contract, but in July 2017 Resultant Finance brought an Application against the Head of Department of Health in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. The status of this case is not known, nor is the outcome of a reported Provincial Treasury investigation into the award known.
The cancer machine saga, including insofar as it relates to irregularity in procurement, is a particularly tragic example of the gross mismanagement of the DoH. It has consistently squandered money and has recently received a qualified audit for the sixth successive year. Its irregular expenditure for the past financial year was R7,1 billion and wasteful expenditure was almost R15 million. Given that Health is, constitutionally, a concurrent jurisdiction (national and provincial) the National Minister shares responsibility for this state of affairs (including deaths which should not have happened), as does the Provincial Executive in terms of Section 133(2) of the Constitution.
Given its financial profligacy and unaccountability it would be the height of irresponsibility to give this dysfunctional department any more money and power to implement a National Health Insurance, which would probably also be used to favour the politically well-connected.

While the SAPS and the Department of Health are prime examples, the damage done to state institutions during the past eight years cannot be over-emphasised. There are ominous militaristic rumblings from this amoral, dysfunctional government, which is showing distinctly authoritarian leanings, manifest in increasing secrecy and surveillance. These disturbing trends call for greatly increased vigilance, and organised opposition, in 2018.