Pre-Election Update

During the past few days the following reports have been received :

Macambini

All ANC election posters have been removed altogether. On Saturday 18 April residents of Ward 1, a strongly ANC supporting area, alleged that they have been threatened with attack.

Maphumulo

While there has been a general improvement in the situation relative to previous elections an unfortunate incident on 19 April has fuelled tensions in Ward 11.

An ANC official while making announcements with a loudhailer used insulting and extremely provocative language about the local, IFP supporting, traditional leader. Understandably the leader and his supporters are angry about the insult and, although the ANC has reportedly undertaken to take disciplinary steps against the official concerned, there are fears that his utterances may spark some sort of retaliation.

KwaDukuza

On 16 April three houses, reportedly belonging to ANC supporters, were burnt in Lindelani, and the IFP allegedly blocked the ANC from campaigning in the area. Like Macambini, this area has historically been a ‘no go’ one for the ANC. It is also alleged that persons who underwent paramilitary training at eMacambini in 2006 (see www.violencemonitor.com )have been deployed at Lindelani and at Ntshaweni

Sweetwaters and Mpumuza, Pietermaritzburg

No action has apparently been taken by the Plessislaer SAPS in connection with cases of intimidation and injury. It is alleged that a police member who is not based at Plessislaer, and who is related to persons allegedly involved in intimidation, has been interfering in the case of assault opened by Muzi Sokhela.  According to ANC supporters in Ward 1, Mpumuza, there have been threats that they will be targeted on voting day 22 April. They are fearful and begging for security force deployment.

Umzumbe area

On Friday 17 April three ANC supporters were injured and required medical attention after a car, allegedly driven by an IFP supporter, drove into them. Those injured were Phyllis Mbele, aged 56, Nomusa Shinga, aged 22, and Solomon Hlongwa, aged 36.  The ANC also claims various incidents of harassment and threat, including in kwaNdelu.

Lower South Coast

During the period 18-20 April there have been reports from Nositha (inland from Margate) and Mtombothi (near Lamont in kwaXolo area near Margate) that IFP supporters, allegedly from another area, have been sjambokking people wearing ANC T-shirts. Cases are being opened with the police.

SECURITY FORCE DEPLOYMENT

Based on pleas for assistance from various areas the following are among those* in need for additional security force patrols and the deployment of independent observers/monitors

  • PONGOLA
  • NONGOMA/ULUNDI/MAHLABATINI
  • MACAMBINI
  • KWA DUKUZA
  • MSINGA
  • MUDEN
  • GREYTOWN
  • WASCHBANK
  • ESTCOURT
  • EDENDALE, ESPECIALLY MPUMUZA AND SWEETWATERS

In some of these areas, including Nongoma/Mahlabatini, Macambini and Waschbank, security forces from elsewhere in the province or country have already been deployed.

There is also a need to deploy some additional police members near specific polling stations in which, based on the current situation, people are fearful that violence may occur. Ideally, police who are not from the area concerned should be deployed in actual or potential trouble spots.

UMZUMBE (Wards 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18)

MAPHUMULO Ward 11, especially the OCHENI area

MARGATE – Nositha, and Mtombothi (near Lamont, kwaXolo) voting district

What is absolutely critical is that

  • security force patrols maintain high visibility and are seen to be moving around in the volatile areas
  • they remain in the areas until after the announcement of election results
  • they can be easily contacted by persons in the affected communities, or those who are monitoring the election process
  • there are regionally based components which can respond quickly if there are problems in a specific area on voting day itself

*This list is based on experience in recent weeks. However, there are a number of areas which are relatively quiet at present, including around Eshowe and Melmoth, in which there may still be election-related violence – and hence the need for rapid response police units

Pre Election Violence

Trends evident in post-democracy elections, including in the 2004 national elections, and the 2006 local government elections, continue in this 2009 pre-election period.  Several political party members have been murdered, or attempts have been made on their lives, and intimidation and threat is rife in a number of areas.

Deaths

Several politically-aligned people have been murdered, but it is not known whether all the deaths are linked to inter-party tensions. There do appear clear political overtones in the killings in the volatile areas of Nongoma, Muden and Msinga. Those who died are:

  • IFP youth leader Bhekinkosi Dube who was shot dead during early January at Mtubatuba
  • Umgababa ANC Youth Chairperson Sthembiso Cele on 23 January
  • ANC supporter Bongani Khumalo was killed near Benedectine Hospital, Nongoma, during early March. An IFP councillor has been arrested in connection with the murder
  • IFP councillor at Umlalazi, Eshowe, gunned down outside his Gingindlovu home on 25 February
  • ANC supporter Vusi Gaza died of injuries sustained after an ANC rally on 7 March  during an attack by alleged IFP supporters at Msinga
  • Senior IFP organiser Ntokozo Zondi murdered near Esikhawini while driving home
  • Muzi Zuma aka Mbambo shot dead at Muden on 25 March
  • Thulani Justice Gumede, a disabled man, was shot and stabbed to death in the kwaNdwalane area near Paddock on or around Sunday 29 March. His death followed alleged threats that people would be killed if they wore ANC clothing. His ANC T-shirt had been removed when his body was found. Two men have been arrested and are in prison. One is from the kwaNdwalane area, and had reportedly been away to receive paramilitary training prior to the killing. His co-accused is from kwaNongoma, and it is not known whether he too had received training at the Mlaba camp or elsewhere (the recent paramilitary training at Mlaba camp was shut down by the SAPS in August 2008. 473 men were arrested and released bail

A few days after she had attended an ANC rally at Umzimkhulu on 8 March, Creighton resident Thuliisile Memela was murdered by her IFP supporting ex-boyfriend Michael Dlamini, who then killed himself.

Although the brutal assassination, in Umlazi, of Msinga Inkosi and Jacob Zuma ally  Mbongeleni Zondo on 23  January appeared linked to political contestation in his area it also appears connected to taxi conflict in the region.

Violent incidents, threat and intimidation and intolerance : Problem areas

While there have been isolated incidents of alleged intimidation and removal of posters involving different political parties, most of the reported incidents involve ANC/IFP conflict.

NORTH

PONGOLA

There is a contest over traditional leadership in this area, in which historical records reinforce the claim by Inkosi Mahlobo,  and political affiliation overlaps with this contest. ANC supporting Inkosi Mahlobo has survived previous attacks on his life, and remains under threat. There have also been allegations of political intimidation in nearby Belgrade.

In Ncotshane township there have been a number of incidents, including the removal and defacing of ANC posters. In mid February two ANC supporters were injured in a hit and run accident and two IFP supporters, including the son of the mayor, were arrested and given bail. According to the police, the father of one of those arrested was also charged for assaulting a police member. Mfundo Mncwango, one of those arrested, was subsequently alleged to have stabbed ANC supporter Xolani Dlamini, and he has been re-arrested.  ANC councillor Busi Mvelase, who has suffered threats to her life at various periods during the past fifteen years is once again under threat, as is fellow ANC councillor Luke Nxumalo.

NONGOMA/MAHLABATINI AREA

ANC leader Matobelo Ngcobo was injured on 31 January and, on the following day, the car in which ANC representative Prince Zeblon Zulu and his relatives were travelling home after an ANC rally in the area came under fire and three people were injured. There have been arrests in respect of these incidents.  The ANC had held a rally at KwaSeme, and the IFP had held its rally at eMona. IFP supporters had allegedly intimidated ANC supporters bussed into the area, and stoned buses. A large police contingent dispersed IFP supporters blockading the road into Nongoma.

The IFP has accused the SAPS National Intervention Unit deployed in the area of harassing, intimidating and threatening party supporters.

MELMOTH

There is continuing conflict in the kwaBiyela area. Although described as faction fighting there are clear political overtones. ANC supporters claim that posters are taken down, and that they are subject to severe intimidation. The house of Mr Ngema (ANC) was burnt down on 25 February and he has fled the area.

NGOYE

There have been ongoing clashes between IFP and ANC supporting students at the university, At least eleven students have been injured – some reportedly being forced out of windows – and several required hospitalisation. A police task force has been deployed in the area following the failure of the local police to deal with the situation

MACAMBINI

This is a notorious no-go area for the ANC (see Monitor reports at www.violencemonitor.com ) . The party waited until recently to place its posters. Some have been removed but most are reportedly still in place.

KWADUKUZA

On Sunday 29 March ANC supporters were attacked while canvassing in the Chris Hani shack area of Ntshaweni, allegedly by IFP supporters, including a man whose name has been linked to political violence for the past fifteen years. Three were injured and hospitalised.

On Monday 13 April COPE members canvassing in the iTete area were threatened by ANC supporters, including one who was wielding a rifle (name known). A case has been opened with the SAPS

NORTH INLAND

WASCHBANK

The ANC allege that its supporters in Richterfontein have been subject to threat and intimidation by IFP councillors, and that an SAPS patrol has been deployed in the area.

WEENEN

A Department of Agriculture meeting held in the Sahlumbe area on 24 March was allegedly disrupted by IFP supporters who damaged property and attacked people. Three people were reportedly arrested and charged

MSINGA

While an ANC rally in the Msinga area on 7 March proceeded peacefully, a party supporter who alighted from a bus to walk to his home after the rally was allegedly chased by IFP supporters, including a councillor, to the end of a cliff, which he was forced over. It took hours for Emergency Services to reach him and rescue him and he died in hospital a week later of his injuries.

POMEROY

The car of people using a loudhailer to announce a function attended by the MEC for Local Government and Traditional affairs was allegedly stoned by IFP supporters on 7 April. A man has been arrested by the local police.

MUDEN/GREYTOWN

ANC supporters were allegedly beaten by IFP supporters after they had met in the Nkanini area on 15 March. Ward 4 Councillor Jeffrey Ngobese and other ANC activist remain in fear of their lives (see report on meeting disruption).  ANC supporter Muzi Zuma aka Mbambo was shot dead at his home on 25 March.

In another incident during the latter part of March an ANC supporter was knocked over by a vehicle linked to the IFP, and she was hospitalised. The IFP opened a case against her for allegedly removing posters. Both she and the person accused of driving into her have been arrested.

The incidents in Muden appear closely connected with events in the Enhlalakahle Township, Greytown, on 22 March when ANC members who had been campaigning in the township, as well as community members, were attacked by alleged IFP supporters, including councillors. Property was badly damaged, and a number of people were injured. ANC supporter Dumisani Mshibe was badly injured : After an attempt to shoot him failed he was deliberately run over, allegedly by a car driven by an IFP supporter. He remains in hospital, in a critical condition.

According to the IFP, about 500 ANC supporters prevented the IFP from campaigning in Enhlalakahle township in Greytown on Sunday 5 April, when they had blockaded the road and stoned the IFP cars. A case has been opened with the SAPS. According to the police, the IFP retaliated by firing shots, and that police vehicles and private cars were damaged by stones.

Also on Sunday 5 April three ANC supporters were injured and required medical treatment after allegedly being stoned by IFP supporters – reportedly in the presence of the police – in the Muden area.

MIDLANDS

MAQONQO (TABLE MOUNTAIN)

Towards the end of March ANC supporter, surname Khuzwayo, was stabbed by alleged IFP supporters, one of whom has been arrested. Mr Khuzwayo is still in hospital.

EDENDALE (PIETERMARITZBURG)

According to ANC supporters there were disruptions during voter registration weekend in February, and when the ANCYL held a meeting in the Sweetwaters area on 15 March (see separate report). A number of cases of intimidation have been opened, including by Mr Majozi (whose son was allegedly threatened at the school gates, and fears to attend school), Mr Mngadi (a former IFP member who has switched political allegiance) and Mr Mthalane (Mr Mngadi’s neighbour).  A local IFP councillor, against whom a number of cases have been opened during the past few years, was allegedly one of those involved in these incidents, including one in which a gun was brandished.

A community meeting in Edendale over the weekend of 28/29 March was allegedly disrupted by IFP supporters travelling in a motorcade. A young man received medical treatment after being stabbed, allegedly by a person in the motorcade.

According to ANC supporters in Ward 1, Mpumuza, IFP supporters, including a local councillor are intimidating ANC supporters and threatening to attack them. Muzi Sokhela needed medical attention after he was assaulted on Sunday 12 April and a case has been opened.

ELANDSKOP

On 11 April shots were allegedly fired at the Elandskop home of IFP leader David Ntombela by ANC supporters campaigning in the area. The ANC disputed the IFP version of what had happened and also claimed that  two of its members were hospitalised after being attacked by IFP supporters after the incident near Ntombela’s house.

ESTCOURT

The IFP was accused of attempting to disrupt a Department of Agriculture meeting in the NTABAMHLOPE area on 21 February.

During by-elections on4 March two people were shot and injured during clashes between IFP and ANC supporters. A number of cars were also damaged

SOUTH COAST

SCOTTBURGH

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) alleges that its provincial chairman was attacked while putting up posters in the Malangeni ward on 19 March

LOWER SOUTH COAST

In February a case was opened by ANC supporters in kwaXolo after alleged assault by the local IFP Youth Chairperson.

On Saturday 4 April ANC supporters campaigning in Margate were allegedly attacked by IFP supporters armed with ‘traditional’ weapons who had been bussed into the area from elsewhere. Taxi rank manager Bonga Mkhize was badly assaulted and has opened a case with the police.

On 7 April a man wearing an ANC T-shirt was assaulted with an IFP flag, allegedly by an IFP councillor – who was arrested and released on warning – in Port Shepstone.

OTHER INCIDENTS

COPE alleged intimidation by the ANC in Estcourt (a case opened with police) and Gamalakhe (Lower South Coast), and claims its posters have been removed in Mandeni.

The ANC alleges that it saw a poster being removed by a DA supporter in the Bluff area, Durban. The ACDP opened a case with the Umzinto SAPS after its posters were defaced, allegedly by ANC supporters. The Democratic Alliance alleges that the ANC has defaced its posters in Copeville, Pietermaritzburg.

Sources of reports

These reports are received mainly from persons in the affected areas, but media reports are also included.  The IFP has been invited to submit details of incidents targeting its members to the Monitor.

Human Rights Day 2009: Stand Up For Your Rights South Africans

As we celebrate our fifteenth Human Rights Day we should reflect on our failure to build a broadly based human rights culture as a bulwark against the threatened erosion of constitutional rights. A year after the advent of democracy the late legal academic Etienne Mureinik drew attention to the way in which what he termed ‘irrational responses’ to brutal crime posed a threat to human rights.*  Fourteen violent years later attitudes have hardened, and populist politicians garner support with threats to curtail existing rights.  Blaming human rights for our social ills serves to deflect attention from their own responsibility for failing to curb crime.

Seductive as the crime weary public may find exhortations to ‘shoot to kill’, and threats to clamp down on the rights of those arrested, support for such utterances is extremely dangerous. Not only do they undermine the rule of law, but any diminution of existing rights can only facilitate the creeping abuse of power by the state. There is nothing wrong with the law : It is the way that it 8is being implemented (or often not implemented) that presents problems. Transparency and public accountability have diminished in the past decade, with many civil servants showing an arrogant disregard for the taxpayers who fund their salaries. The Land Claims Commission refuses to provide documentation to which the public is entitled and the SAPS fail to respond to queries and to provide information which is in the public interest.

Existing laws giving flesh to the bare bones of constitutional freedoms are crucial since they can be used to hold government accountable, including through class actions.  However, with certain exceptions, the type of civil liberties groupings that drive such processes in well established democracies are not strongly developed in South Africa. Surely the threats which have been made to the freedoms and rights we now take for granted should serve as a wake up call to oppose their erosion?

The topical issue of privacy illustrates the importance of public vigilance and, if necessary, action, to uphold rights.  Section 14 of the Bill of Rights guarantees everyone’s basic human right to privacy yet the eThekwini municipality has aroused public ire by requesting details about the incomes of pensioners applying for property rates rebates. By now legislation detailing how this right will be safeguarded should have been promulgated, but a Protection of Personal Information bill, drafted by the Law Commission, has not yet seen the light of day.

The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development, which has dragged its heels for six years over the Protection of Personal Information bill has, however, prioritised the Criminal Law (Forensics Procedures) Amendment Bill 2009. This bill allows for the SAPS to establish a massive DNA database, without providing adequate controls for protecting individual and family privacy.  Public comment on this bill has been scant, in stark contrast to the vigorous lobbying which takes place in other countries about issues relating to DNA.

Nor is there any public debate about the invasion of privacy by the extensive use of surveillance techniques, especially CCTV cameras. That these cameras may prove valuable in catching criminals should not preclude critical debate – any more than the undoubted value of DNA in criminal matters should.  Like DNA though, CCTV footage can be misused.  Are all of those who operate the cameras free of any criminal association? While operators are all required to register with the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), the Authority lacks the capacity to deal with huge numbers of illegal security service providers.

Why, when these cameras are ubiquitous in places such as banks are so few criminals caught? What happens to the footage collected? Although the United Kingdom is described as the most watched country on earth, its Data Protection Act attempts to govern the use of CCTV cameras, and stipulates that the public must be informed that they are under surveillance.

To argue, as some might, that privacy concerns should play second fiddle to tackling crime is to miss the point. Both DNA and CCTV footage can be used for criminal purposes, and the failure to pass legislation protecting personal information may facilitate its use by criminals, especially in this computerised age.

Experience elsewhere in the world shows that the defence of constitutional rights is too important to be left to politicians of whichever persuasion. Although South Africa would benefit from more civil liberties bodies, existing groups could be used more effectively for the defence of rights – as in the UK where a wide range of professional bodies, associations and NGOs recently joined forces with Privacy International to oppose a clause in a parliamentary bill posing a threat to privacy.

Human rights issues under threat in our country include freedom of expression, privacy and those linked to criminal justice system. The sooner we organise, the better. As Mureinik warned, beware of irrational responses to violent crime – and of using human rights as a scapegoat for a malfunctioning criminal justice system. Bad things happen when good people remain silent. As individuals or as groups we should form networks – as in the UK – to oppose any diminution of our constitutional rights, no matter how minor it may appear.

*Quote from Etienne Mureinik article ‘Crime panic threatens our rights’ in Mail and Guardian November 24-30 1995

Alleged Disruption Of Political Meetings & Intimidation In Edendale And Muden

ANC supporters in the Edendale (Pietermaritzburg) and Muden areas allege that meetings they held on Sunday 15 March 2009 were disrupted by large groups of IFP supporters, leading to fears about their safety when campaigning in the run up to the April elections.  It is important that these allegations be dealt with by the political leadership of the ANC and IFP. Since it is also alleged that the SAPS did not take adequate action against those causing the disruptions, SAPS management should also urgently address the question of providing adequate protection for those attending political meetings.

In Edendale, supporters of the ANC Youth League gathered at Naduma High School, Mpumuza Ward 1, having apparently received permission for the meeting from the local traditional leader.  They claim that a small group of IFP supporters arrived and, when the police who were present did nothing to remove them – but merely asked the IFP councillor who was part of the group whether the meeting was legal – their numbers swelled.  One of those present was a local councillor against whom a number of cases of intimidation have been opened in the past, and another was a man who had reportedly been sent for paramilitary training at the Mlaba camp in 2008. The IFP supporters then allegedly behaved in a generally threatening manner towards those in the hall, including by throwing intelezi (traditional medicine) into the crowd – a tactic which inspires fear, especially as it was one which accompanied high levels of violence in the area in the pre-1994 period.

When the SAPS warned that it was not safe for the ANC supporters to continue with their meeting, they moved out of the hall to a nearby venue.  Police reinforcements subsequently arrived, possibly after the intervention of the provincial MEC for Community Safety and Liaison, who had apparently been called. The police formed a corridor between ANC and IFP. However, when the ANC supporters left the meeting to return to their homes they found that the main Mpumuza Road to Sweetwaters had been blocked by IFP supporters, and they had to use a side road.

It is also alleged that, in February, IFP supporters had attempted to stop ANC supporters from registering to vote, by blocking the Mabane Bridge (Sweetwaters) area.  During the 2006 local government elections there were numerous similar complaints of disruption of meetings and intimidation in the Sweetwaters area.

In the incident in Muden, ANC supporters had held a meeting in the Nkanini area and, when they were dispersing, they were allegedly set on by a large group of IFP supporters wielding sticks. Four ANC supporters were reportedly hurt, but not badly enough to need medical attention. Cases have not been opened because victims fear that they will be targeted if they do so. It is alleged that although the police had been informed about the meeting no preventive action was taken.  A local ANC councillor, Jeffrey Ngobese, who opened a case of intimidation against an IFP representative in June 2008, has since survived an apparent attempt on his life. Other ANC supporters in the area have reportedly been threatened and in November 2008 there was an attempt on the life of Thabsile Dladla of the Nhlangane area.

Following yesterday’s incident, the Muden area is very tense, with ANC supporters claiming that they are scared to engage in pre-election canvassing and campaigning.

Political leaders have pledged support for peaceful electioneering, so immediate action is demanded of them, with a view to preventing further similar incidents. SAPS management is responsible for ensuring that all such disruptions are dealt with by monitoring political gatherings and arresting and charging those responsible for life threatening disruptions.

2008 : Yet Another Year Of The Gun in KZN

That statistics released by the SAPS during 2008 suggested a downward trend in murder was cold comfort for South Africans.  Their fears are understandable for crime seems to have become more violent during the past twenty years, probably because of the proliferation of guns. Easy access to firearms drives crimes such as hijackings, taxi violence and cash-in-transit robberies(CIT), the use of guns is usual in farm attacks and political assassinations.  The sound of shooting accompanied many of the mid year xenophobic attacks.  Why, when the police in KZN have destroyed almost 12 000 guns during 2008 are there still so many around? The answer lies in the failure of the post-1994 State, through its police and army, to pursue those linked with apartheid era weapons, and to stem the flow of guns from neighbouring war-ravaged countries.

Guns in KZN

According to research at Gale Street mortuary by Prof Steve Naidoo and Shelley Rawsthome, gunshot wounds accounted for 16,3% of homicides in Durban in 1988. By 2003, the proportion of gunshot deaths had jumped to 52.3%.  The latest 2007 figures for the eThekwini metro area, based on data from its three mortuaries, show a continuing high rate of 44%.  While there is no comparative data for other urban and rural areas in KZN, the widespread presence of weapons suggests that Durban may not be atypical.

The jump in gunshot deaths post-1988 coincided with the flooding of weapons into this province during the dying days of apartheid. An analysis of TRC records and court records which document this process reveals dozens of cases in which reference is made to caches of weapons, including huge quantities of AK-47s. Of the 11 800 guns destroyed by the police during 2008 relatively few were AK-47s, and it is not known whether destructions include guns such as R4s which also continue to feature prominently in taxi and CIT violence. It seems that there has been no real effort to locate the guns clearly associated with specific individuals, including the estimated 64 tons of a Vlakplaas consignment (which also included rocket launchers, mines and grenades) delivered to the province in 1993.

Policing and guns

At least twenty police members have reportedly died at the hands of well armed criminals during 2008; police, claiming that they come under attack, shoot suspects dead, with at least 19 known deaths at the hands of police during the last four months of 2008.

The conduct of some police members is part and parcel of the gun problem. In March, in what appears clearly an inside job, 43 guns linked to taxi conflict were stolen from a storeroom at Maphumulo station. According to well informed sources Provincial Management had been apprised of the inadequacy of the storage facilities, but no action had been taken. Senior Supt Chonco was investigating the theft of the guns, and the kwaMaphumulo/kwaDukuza taxi violence, which has been linked to certain police members. He was shot dead in an ambush in August, while on his way to court. One suspect died at the scene, and another six were shot dead in separate incidents by the police before they could appear in court. Dead men tell no tales.

Police members may also also abuse their service guns – killing themselves, their partners and other community members; they may also fail to secure their weapons adequately. Some achieved notoriety during 2008 when they threatened other motorists while driving in blue light vehicles.  There is obviously a need for far stricter control over the use of guns by police members themselves.

Failure of the police to stem taxi violence

The taxi industry appears to have easy access to large quantities of weapons, used in the conflict which continued all over the province during 2008. Threats have also been made to shoot police members impounding vehicles.  Gunshots were fired at buses which were set alight, in competition over routes. In Inanda one unfortunate commuter was burnt to death, having been unable to escape because he had been shot and injured.  Taxi industry violence is compounded by gun-toting private security personnel, as in the Mandeni area where they have been threatening and intimidating commuters and drivers alike as a means of extorting money from them.

The failure of the police to take a firm stand against taxi lawlessness, through instituting regular roadblocks and searches for weapons – using SANDF backup if necessary – suggests that they are not serious about eradicating this type of conflict, which costs so many lives each year.

Political and public violence

A young ANC supporter was shot dead after the party launched its election campaign in Umlazi in August. Political office bearers shot dead this year included Endumeni(Dundee) IFP councillor Petros Nxele, ANC Deputy Mayor of Umkhambathini municipality Johnson Mkhize, and IFP Chairperson at Jacobs hostel, Bhekisisa Mthethwa. Prominent community activist and ANC local government candidate in Gluckstad, Piet Mtshali,was shot dead by the police under highly suspicious circumstances.

ANC/IFP tensions, linked to threats and attacks, continued in a number of areas, including Muden, Elandskop and Camperdown, and intra-party violence linked to corruption in local government also claimed lives. However, 2008 will be remembered for the intra-ANC tensions generated by leadership issues and the organised protest action and war talk which accompanied the court appearances of Jacob Zuma. When leading members of the ANC left to form new party COPE the disruptive conduct by unruly ANC-linked mobs continued, and led to the cancellation of a meeting of the party to be held in Verulam in November.

2008 also had its share of other types of violent, potentially lethal, protest action about service delivery and transport problems – which saw buses and train carriages being burnt. Protest action against street renaming saw thousands of IFP supporters marching through Durban carrying traditional weapons. Zuma-linked protests saw a large crowd of ANC supporters also marching with such weapons, and burning tyres during a march at kwaMashu. It is illegal to carry weapons in public, and the failure of the police to charge those carrying them makes a mockery of the law.

Time to get serious about disarming

The first months of 2009 are likely to be marked by increasing political tensions, as COPE, as well as the ANC and IFP, vie for votes. Various factors exacerbate the risk of violence in the run up to the elections :  In a political climate characterised by intolerance a significant sector of the well armed taxi industry has taken a firm political stand for the ANC. Then there is the presence of a large group of men and women who have been undergoing paramilitary training – including in subversive tactics – who are jobless. They are known to have been using wooden guns for practice and there is good reason to believe that they may have access to weapons stockpiled in this province.

Even if there is no escalation in violence, there is no way in which violent crime will decrease significantly while there are so many illegal weapons around.  Far too many lives have been lost because the government has not taken decisive steps to rid this country of illegal weapons. A good start would be to disarm taxi operators, and to form a hand-picked national team to investigate all reports of illegal weapons, including those in the possession of rogue elements of the private security industry.

Notes:

  1. Information on gunshot deaths in Durban from Naidoo S R and Shelley Rawsthome n.d. ‘A Tale of One City : Durban : The Epidemiology and Pathology, Fatal Violence across 15 years 1988 – 2003  Research Report and Neethling I (ed) ‘A Profile of Fatal Injuries in eThekwini(Durban), addendum to 9th Annual Report of the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (NIMSS) 2007 Unisa
  2. The estimated 64 tons of Vlakplaas weapons are from one consignment only of approximately 70 tons, some of which was destroyed in a controlled explosion several years ago (see report on Scorpions ‘Trial by Media’ at www.violencemonitor.com
  3. There have been a number of other Monitor reports during 2008 on intra-ANC violence, war talk and Xenophobia, which are still to be posted on the web site.

The Failure Of The National Crime Prevention Strategy : Rejoinder To The Institute Of Security Studies

According to the media, a recent Institute of Security Studies report attributes the failure of the National Crime Prevention Strategy to its not being linked to underlying socio-economic causes, and reportedly downplays the role of the police. Socio-economic conditions contribute to crime, but it is an oversimplification to place the emphasis on poverty, unemployment, lack of education and inadequate social services, and it stigmatises the poor at the expense of better off crime kingpins. Continuing high levels of crime are, above all, a glaring indictment of the failure of the criminal justice system.

Crime and socio-economic context

While there is no denying that bureaucratic incompetence and corruption (both of which have there roots in the pre-1994 period) have retarded service delivery, there is no way in which gross disparities in health, education, and social spending in general, inherited from the apartheid era, could have been rectified in a mere fourteen years.  Glib references to a lack of education ignore the crippling legacy of Bantu Education, which will take decades to eradicate – for educators who were themselves badly taught are likely to perpetuate past errors.

Poverty and unemployment do not necessarily spawn crime (and nor do they, in themselves, threaten national security). There are poor societies all over the world which have nowhere near the crime rate that South Africa, especially in terms of violent crime, does. Studies of slum populations, for example, have shown that amidst high unemployment levels, people often manage to subsist through informal sector activities and reciprocal networks[i].

High levels of violent crime are not new – they have simply spread from the ghettoes of apartheid, where they were unchecked (and often fomented) by the State. Over many decades, black South Africans were criminalised for petty offences, such as beer brewing and the contravention of pass laws, many learning the ways of hardened criminals during their time in prison. Over a century of labour migrancy destroyed normal family life for millions, with children growing up without fathers (and often mothers), some of them exposed from an early age to the violence of single sex hostel life. The importance of stable family life – including the presence of suitable male role models – for children’s moral development[ii] is beyond dispute, and it is disgraceful that the present government has done little, if anything, to address migrancy-related problems. At the same time, the use of violence to solve problems is common to all racial groups (one has only to drive on our roads), with family killings by white South Africans having historically been among the highest in the world.

In terms of crime generally, blaming socio-economic conditions obscures the high levels of fraud and white collar crime, involving people who cannot claim to be disadvantaged – and the fact that it is the better off who often run syndicates which recruit poor people, e.g. to steal cars. Organised crime involving drug running is a prime example of how the failure to deal with affluent people who run syndicates perpetuates a system in which the poor are recruited as the visible face of drug running. Organised crime fuels ‘ordinary’ crime, for poor addicts need to steal to feed their habit.

In-depth qualitative research on drug-running related violence in the USA shows the complexity of links between unemployment and crime, for even when jobs are available, they may be spurned because they are menial and low paying. The lure of drug running is that it provides status through income higher than that for minimal wage jobs – and South Africa is a very status conscious society.[iii]

The importance of the criminal justice system

In all societies of the world, no matter how simple the social organisation, the quest for justice is fundamental: If there is no justice, if the norms and values of society are not upheld by those vested by its members with the authority to do so, disorder and lawlessness will threaten the fabric of society.[iv] The mechanisms employed to dispense justice depend on the nature of particular societies and in modern States it is the police and the courts which are charged with this responsibility.

The prime reason for the failure of the Crime Prevention Strategy in South Africa lies with policing.  The assertion by the police that most violent crime is social contact crime, much of which is beyond police control must be challenged.  Firstly, given notoriously low conviction rates for serious crime, what is the factual basis for this statement? Secondly, there appear to be serious problems with the Crime Intelligence component, for community members often seem to know more about where the criminals and guns are, and who is under threat, than the police do. [v]

While there are good detectives, they are generally assigned to high profile and high priority cases. Statement taking by police members is often atrocious and – like lost evidence, and perjury by police members – ruins cases for court. The majority of serious crimes go undetected, especially when victims live in townships and rural areas. The ISS report notes the vacuum left by the disbanding of the commando system. It is quite correct that there are serious problems with rural safety, but the commando system did nothing to protect most of the victims, poor black people – in fact there are numerous cases on record of abuse at the hands of commando members. Rural safety is indivisible and the failure to deal with crime in historically disadvantaged areas leads to its spilling over into farms and middle class suburbs.  Take, e.g. continuing high levels of crime in rural Macambini, which spills over into numerous farm attacks on neighbouring Mangete, as well as the nearby N2 where local thugs have rendered travel, especially at night, unsafe.[vi]

There are serious problems with the management of the SAPS, evidenced by personal testimonies from victims, and regular media reports about corruption, abuse of power, the escape of awaiting trial prisoners and the theft of guns. These problems impact negatively on those police members striving to do their best – who may be victims of nepotism. having been bypassed for promotion at the expense of incompetent colleagues.

While socio-economic development remains of pressing importance – as does the provision of a nurturing family environment for children – the real priority is the urgent restructuring of the South African Police Service, and the upgrading of members’ skills. It is only when it becomes obvious that crime does not pay (and it does at present) that levels are likely to drop significantly.

  1. There are numerous sociological and anthropological studies of slums and informal settlements which support this argument, e.g. Lloyd P 1979 Slums of Hope Penguin; Lomnitz L 1977 Networks and Marginality : Life in a Mexican Shanty Town
  2. The link between the breakdown of morality and crime is made by, among others, Rauch J in ISS Monograph 114, April 2005, at www.iss.co.za/pubs
  3. Phillippe Bourgois 1993 ‘Crack in Spanish Harlem’ in Haviland W and R Gordon Talking about People Haviland’; Dembo et al 1993 ‘Crack Cocaine Dealing by Adolescents in Two Public Housing Projects : A Pilot Study’ Human Organization Vol 52 No 1.  With regard to the preoccupation with status de Haas M ‘Of joints and jollers : culture and class in Natal Shebeens’ in Preston-Whyte E and C Rogerson (eds) South Africa’s Informal Economy Cape Town : Oxford University Press
  4. This position is spelt out more fully in de Haas 1993 ‘Violence and the Criminal Justice System’, a comparative look at justice cross-culturally, prepared for the Goldstone Commission
  5. This section draws on first hand information provided by victims and members of the SAPS – including through cases followed up – as well as media reports

Macambini, Dubai And The Office Of The Premier KZN : Answers Please Mr Premier

The motives for the orchestrated protest action by thousands of Macambini residents on 4 December, which saw them blockading the main roads immediately north of the uThukela river, must be questioned. According to the owner-in-law of the land, the Ingonyama Trust, it cannot be leased or alienated without the formal consent of the Traditional Council concerned. Why then is the Traditional Council, headed by Inkosi Khayalihle Mathaba, who rules the area with an iron fist, protesting instead of simply declining the Dubai offer?

At the same time, the provincial government has important questions to answer, especially about who stands to benefit from the Dubai investment – and whether the provincial government’s failure to take action against a man who has broken the law with impunity has anything to do with alleged shared business interests with anyone associated in any way with government.

The proposed development in context

The Macambini area has suffered high levels of political violence, intimidation and crime for almost twenty years.  In the 1990s countless people were killed, or driven from the area, with the TRC making a finding of gross human rights violations against traditional leader Mathaba.

While violence raged in Macambini, Mathaba directed people to settle, illegally, on adjoining Mangete farms owned by Dunn descendants, with the farmers enduring a campaign of terror – the burning of sugar cane, and innumerable attacks. Before an Interdict against Mathaba and others was to be finalised in 1996 he lodged a land claim on behalf of people who had been moved from Mangete in the 1970s to the Wangu area, which was not then part of Macambini. This claim was settled, albeit irregularly, in 2002, but up until the present time the illegal occupants have not been given the land which was purchased for them – including seven farms in Mangete which, like Wangu, remains under the control of non-claimant Mathaba. The Interdict, ordering the occupants off the land, was finalised in 2004. The First Respondent, Mathaba, and the illegal occupants are in flagrant disobedience of Order, placing them all in contempt of court.

A climate of extreme political repression exists in Macambini, with the persecution of ANC activists having continued up until the present time. In 2004 Walter Buthelezi obtained a High Court Interdict against Mathaba, who threatened him with death for placing ANC posters. Prominent activist and local government candidate Mrs Sibongile Zungu was threatened by Mathaba in 2005, prior to various attempts to kill her, and a number of other ANC activists have been killed in recent years. Why has the ANC as a political party not taken steps to prevent attacks on people who risk their lives for it, and why has it, as government in the province, failed to take action against Mathaba despite his having broken the law?

A deafening silence

Following gross intimidation of voters and election officials in Macambini during the 2006 local government elections, affidavits were made with a view to disputing the election results. The regional structures of the ANC refused to take the matter further, despite its presumably having been in its interest to do so.

In May 2006 a letter was addressed to MEC for Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs, Mr Mike Mabuyakhulu, detailing Mathaba’s contravention of the legislation governing traditional leadership and the fact that he was in contempt of court. The MEC was requested to take appropriate action. Despite follow up letters, and an appeal to the relevant national minister, no response was received.

When threats to Mrs Zungu and criminal attacks on Mangete farmers continued, a letter was addressed to ANC leader Ndebele in December 2006, referring to matters raised with Mabuyakhulu, and the MEC’s non-response. Information was provided about paramilitary training in the area, and its potential for destabilisation.   Reference was made to allegations of proposed business ventures in the area involving Mathaba and at least one person close to the provincial government, raising the issue of possible corruption. The premier was warned that if no action was taken more blood was sure to be spilled. There was no response.

On 26 February 2007 well armed men attacked the Zungu home, shooting and throwing incendiary devices. The large house was razed, and two grandchildren were injured by shrapnel. Miraculously, no one was killed, but the family was left with only the nightclothes they were wearing. They relocated to a room in nearby Mandeni, but the threats continued – apparently because family members recognised attackers, including Mbongwa Maphumulo. Maphumulo is an induna of the chief, and a ward councillor. He was recently found guilty of possession of three unlicensed firearms and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.  Mrs Zungu had campaigned tirelessly for the ANC despite being under threat, but appeals to help her made to the leadership – including the Women’s League and NEC – fell on deaf ears.

In July 2007 a letter was faxed, and sent registered mail, to the Speaker of the Legislature, Mr Willies Mchunu, drawing attention to the unlawful conduct of Mathaba, an MPL, and requesting an enquiry. The registered letter was never collected from the post office and was returned to sender. No response was ever received to the fax.

When, in April 2008, the rumours about the Dubai investment were confirmed, an open letter to the premier, reiterating previous concerns, and asking a number of questions – including about local financial stakeholders – elicited a prompt response from his office. A meeting with Director General Mbanjwa followed. Mbanjwa provided various undertakings, including that that no Macambini resident would be dispossessed of land and that the illegal occupants on Mangete farms would be given land due to them in terms of the claim settlement. Despite an assurance of regular progress reports, and a follow up letter, nothing further was ever heard from the office of the premier.

Answers please Premier Ndebele

There is a perception that the government of this province has continued to turn a blind eye to gross human rights violations and unlawful activities in Macambini and Mangete because of vested financial interests on the part of person/s associated with it. Whatever the truth, its handling of the Dubai-investment matter has provided a pretext for increased destabilisation in an area which is a haven for criminals, and seems awash with guns.  Premier Ndebele owes the public a full explanation:

  1. Is it true that Mathaba travelled to Dubai with a person or persons from his office when talks were held with investors
  2. Is it true that Mathaba was given a large sum of money and, if so, where did this money come from?
  3. Who exactly are the local stakeholders in the proposed R44 billion development and are any persons currently serving in government among them?

TRC/Court records cited

  • Findings against Mathaba in TRC Report Volume 3
  • Water Buthelezi Durban and Coast High Court Interdict 3565/2004
  • Mangete land invasion details in Durban and Coast High Court cases 6212/03 and 1931/96 (Interdict)

Privatised Policing And The Erosion Of State Power

Private security companies have an important role in fighting crime but allowing them to take over certain policing functions is fraught with potentially serious problems. This increased privatisation of policing also erodes the power of a new democracy which has yet to consolidate its hold over its security organs.

Policing is a public institution, funded by taxpayers, to whom, through parliament, it is ultimately answerable. Imperfect, and difficult to implement, as the system may be, the SAPS can at least be called to account. They are also subject to an oversight body – the Independent Complaints Directorate. While it is true that the ICD is hopelessly under-resourced, there are moves afoot to improve its functioning. There is no denying that there are serious problems with policing (which are probably worse in some areas than others) but the deployment of security personnel will not provide an incentive to improve performance. In fact, it may have quite the opposite effect, and allow malfunctioning management and members to simply pass the buck.

In contrast, private security companies exist to make profit for their owners, and the public does not have the right to the same degree of scrutiny over their affairs as it does over policing. The only public safeguard is that the industry is subject to regulation by the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) which falls under the control of the Minister of Safety and Security. Given the sheer size of the industry, and the fact that a large sector of it is unregistered and operating illegally, PSIRA as it is currently structured and funded lacks the capacity to ensure that the industry is adequately regulated, including in terms of gun ownership.

It must be stressed that there are many players in the security industry who behave in an exemplary manner. However, simply because companies are registered with PSIRA, and their staff do not have criminal records, does not necessarily mean that they behave honestly. The matter of a number of apparently registered security companies allegedly overpaid by the eThekwini municipality raises serious questions about contracts entered into between government bodies and security companies, and also shows how such practices can militate against transparency in government.

According to press reports, an audit report has shown that around R15 million is owed to the municipality by these companies, but it is refusing to divulge further details, using the pretext of possible criminal action against the companies concerned. Since public expenditure is involved, the truth must ultimately out, if necessary through the courts. In the mean time, will these companies be eligible to perform policing duties?

The lack of transparency in security company operations is exacerbated by fronting. Although difficult to prove, there are widespread, and apparently well founded, allegations of fronting (through, e.g. family members) involving members of the SAPS and certain politicians.  Presumably security companies involved in policing work will be paid for it, so questions arise about how those participating will be selected – and how the risk of cronyism and nepotism will be minimised.  What type of oversight will operate, given that the performance of police management leaves much to be desired?

Even assuming that only the services of truly professional and above board security companies are utilised, the increased privatisation of policing can only weaken, rather than strengthen, a state which is structurally still in the process of replacing its apartheid foundations.  Short of a revolution institutions do not change overnight, so despite fourteen years of democracy the present government does not exercise the type of control over its security apparatus that is characteristic of a strong state.  The creeping privatisation of security can only weaken it further – especially as the process of transforming the security industry has been slow, and foreign ownership remains a contentious issue.

If there were a will on the part of SAPS management the shortcomings which the involvement of the private security sector is meant to address could easily be remedied without changing the current role of security companies. There are already plans to increase the size of the SAPS with thousands of new recruits. When there is a pressing need to train so many serving police members in securing crime scenes, and in taking proper statements, why train security personnel in this work?  Perhaps the question which should be asked is who really stands to benefit from privatised policing?

APARTHEID LIVES ON : FORCED REMOVALS IN EMACAMBINI

During the apartheid years millions of people were forcibly removed from their ancestral land for apparently ideologically driven reasons – homeland consolidation. This ideology, however, was used to disguise the vested economic interests of the apartheid state. In the new South Africa forced removals are dressed up in the ideology of supposed development, but are still driven by the economic interests of the elites. This strategy was used to drive people off land in Mabaso, northern KZN, and is now being used in eMacambini, iLembe region. During June 2008 a Dubai-based property developer, Ruwaad Holdings, presented a draft plan to the KZN cabinet about a proposed $2,5 billion tourism project on 16 556ha of land in this area and, although it is not known exactly what agreements have been reached, it was announced that this massive development would be ‘fast-tracked’. eMacambini residents have been kept in the dark, despite the fact that thousands of them will lose their homes and many their sugar cane plantations. The office of the Premier must explain why deals have been done behind their backs – and why undertakings given that no people will lose their land have not been honoured.

When, in April 2008, long-circulating rumours about this investment were confirmed, an open letter, copied to the media, was sent to Premier Ndebele, pointing out, among other things, that

• The local traditional leader had been implicated by the TRC in gross human rights violations, and that allegations of his involvement in violence – and paramilitary training – have continued to the present time
• The same leader had directed people to settle, illegally, on nearby Mangete farms owned by descendants of John Dunn and his Zulu wives, against whom a campaign of terror – the burning of their sugar cane, and countless criminal attacks – was waged
• Following the settlement of a land claim by persons moved from Mangete in the 1970s the claimants were not given the land allocated to them – seven small farms and a large commercial farm – which land remains under the control of Inkosi Mathaba who was not even a claimant. Most of these claimants continue to live, illegally, on Dunn descendant farms, where they are subject to a High Court Interdict. Mathaba, the First Respondent, is in breach of this Order and hence in contempt of court. The claimants desperately want their land, but have been subject to severe intimidation for demanding what is rightfully theirs
• Attacks on ANC activists have continued up until the present time, and there is no freedom of political association whatsoever in the eMacambini area. Without freedom of political activity and association no true development can take place

This letter drew an immediate response from the office of the Premier, and a meeting with the Director-General, Dr Mbanjwa, took place on 29 April. Dr Mbanjwa claimed to be unsure of which specific areas were earmarked for inclusion in the proposed development. He promised to look into the matter and he provided the following assurances

• No eMacambini resident would be dispossessed of land
• The provision of land and housing to persons directed to settle on Mangete land would be prioritised and successful claimants would be given land in eMacambini to which they were entitled and
• processes would be initiated to democratise the area with a view to empowering local residents, safeguarding their human rights and facilitating their participation in the planned development

At its request, more background information about the area was subsequently supplied to the Premier’s office and, when nothing further had been heard, a letter was sent on 22 May asking for a progress report. There has been no movement in implementing any of the assurances given but it is clear from media reports that at least ten thousand people will be moved to make way for the new city – to be built on valuable agricultural land – despite the assurances given by the Premier’s office. Only at the beginning of July did the provincial government hold a public meeting at Macambini. People were not told where they would be moved to, but were promised compensation and jobs. Since the verbal assurances given at the April meetings have been dishonoured people have no reason to believe these promises. Although it was announced that the provincial government would work with representatives from the affected area the climate of intense repression in the area will ensure that only those selected by the traditional leader will participate and no democratic decision making will be permitted.

The plight of the illegal occupants on Mangete farms is particularly invidious, since it is only out of compassion that the farm owners have not implemented the court order and evicted them. Not only is the claim settlement land being withheld from them, but that given to them in the 1970s – Wangu – has reportedly been included in the land made available to Ruwaad Holdings. Mathaba is well aware of this fact, since he himself alludes to it in a sworn statement in Durban High Court Case 1931/96. Is it simply a co-incidence that areas in which residents were driven from their land by violence in the 1990s – Wangu, Owabede and Lamboti – now apparently form part of the new Ruwaad Holdings empire?

The actions of the provincial government are in breach of the Constitution which states (Sec 25,1) that ‘No one may be deprived of property except in terms of law of general application and no law may permit arbitrary deprivation of property’ Deals struck with Ruwaad Holdings behind closed doors are lacking in the transparency demanded of government. Both the Premier’s office, and the Ingonyama Trust – which is the landowner in law of all former homeland land – owe the people of eMacambini, and the general public, a full explanation of exactly what agreements have been entered into relating to eMacambini land, including the identities of local beneficiaries of this deal. We also need to know whether anyone who is currently part of any government structures has a vested interest in this neo-imperialist venture which seems set to benefit a select few at the expense of thousands whose homes and livelihoods are in jeopardy.

HOW REAL IS THE THREAT OF POST-POLOKWANE VIOLENCE IN KZN

Following the momentous events at Polokwane speculation abounds about the possibility of violence, with comparisons drawn between the situation in South Africa and that in Kenya. As elsewhere in the country there are deep divisions in the ruling party in KZN, fuelled by allegations of gross irregularities in internal party processes leading up to the nominations for party leadership, and the selection of voting delegates. While the threat of inter-party violence around the 2009 election remains, there are also fears of increased levels of targeted intra-ANC violence, and diffuse public violence. The manner in which the organisation – both in and out of government – deals with the polarisation within its ranks, and the circumstances surrounding it, has crucial implications not only for the party and for the country as a whole.

Background context :
Jacob Zuma’s victory is attributed to a variety of factors : Thabo Mbeki is perceived as being out of touch with party colleagues and supporters, and as having used the Scorpions to pursue a vendetta against Zuma, There is resentment about some of the people he appears to rely on, and he is accused of being power hungry – despite having given no indication that he would wish to serve a third term as president. In contrast, Zuma’s victory is attributed to his being in touch with people, a victim of what is seen as a highly selective Scorpions witch hunt, and a counter to Mbeki’s supposed attempt to cling to power.

However, there are serious allegations that the victory was far more than a groundswell of public support for Zuma, and that his campaign was a carefully crafted one, run along scientific lines, using huge financial resources (Zuma supporters allege Mbeki’s use of State resources in his own campaign). There are also claims that the campaign was not necessarily about ensuring that Zuma becomes President, in that some of those involved, who may not be ANC members, are merely using him as a pretext to pursue their own agendas. In other words, the struggle is not simply between two individuals : It is about the fundamental structure and direction of the ANC. There are honourable people, with impeccable ANC struggle credentials, in both of the ‘camps’ (broad alliances). That there are also sundry others, with extremely dubious backgrounds, is relevant, given the threat of violence.

Specifically, it is alleged by those who claim that the Zuma victory was not an accurate reflection of support for the candidates that in KZN a process of excluding Mbeki supporters, or those who refused to take a stand for either candidates, from local government and ANC branch structures has been underway for the past three years – and that similar tactics were used elsewhere in the country. Apparently these irregularities were drawn to the attention of the party’s leadership but no action was taken. It is further alleged that Mbeki’s dismissal of Zuma as Deputy President – which undoubtedly fuelled anti-Mbeki sentiment – was misrepresented to rank and file ANC supporters, in that there had been extensive consultation which had included Zuma prior to the shock parliamentary announcement. It is claimed that the provincial leadership had been fully briefed, and had been tasked with setting the record straight – but that it had failed to do so.

The nature of the threat:
Public threats have already been made by Cosatu leadership in KZN that protest action will accompany Zuma’s court appearance later this year. Fears have also been expressed about the outbreak of violence if Zuma does not become President (if, for example, he is convicted). Threats of this nature obviously hold ominous implications for the criminal justice system. While ANC leadership, including Zuma, has spoken out against these threats, it is not clear whether all their supporters will heed their call. There are various independent reports of accessibility of weapons. Strong leadership of the SAPS will be called for, given that the loyalties of members of the police – and the SANDF which acts in support of police – are divided.

Of great concern are alleged threats to persons, in different parts of the province, who have taken a pro-Mbeki stand, and who believe that justice was not done at Polokwane. They intend to ensure that debates are carried forward in party structures and congresses, and claim that some of them are under threat of death. They fear that persons associated with the volatile taxi industry – well armed and with easy access to trained hit men – may be used to eliminate them.

What’s to be done?
The allegations and counter-allegations which emanate from a range of influential ANC supporters may or may not be correct, but they fuel perceptions which may lead to action. .

Fortunately there seems to be a consensus at leadership level that, in the interests of stability, the Mbeki and Zuma ‘camps’ should be seen to be working together to ensure a smooth transition to the change of government in 2009. In this regard it is important that those who are impatient for the implementation of ANC policy decisions take into account delays occasioned by inevitable legislative and budgetary constraints, and not make unreasonable demands which cannot be lawfully met. Compromises from both sides will probably be called for, and President Mbeki will need to heed bona fide grievances of his opponents. The expertise of old colleagues trusted by both Mbeki and Zuma should be utilised. The full circumstances of Zuma’s removal from the Presidency should be aired, given the resentment it continues to generate. Transparency around party campaign funding is also called for.

Polarisation at all levels must be addressed. Those who wish to carry debates about the legitimacy of the Polokwane process forward in their structures and congresses perceive what has happened as a breach of the democratic culture of the ANC which should be preserved at all costs. It is important that their voices be heard without their having to fear for their lives. In the interests of transparency – and reconciliation – their allegations should be subject to thorough, in-depth inquiry, as should their claims of victimisation and death threats.

It is not enough to simply tell people to desist from violence. This province is littered with the corpses of people who died while their leaders preached peace. Actions speak more loudly than words and sanctions must be implemented against anyone making threats of violence (itself a crime). The issue of stockpiled guns is long overdue for urgent attention.

The nature of the threat – to human lives and good governance – transcends narrow party political interests, and South Africa looks to the new ANC leadership, and that in government, to resolve their differences peacefully. Close public scrutiny and constant vigilance is essential – including through holding political leaders strictly accountable for the conduct of their followers.