Assassinations of traditional leaders escalate

By Sandile Motha

Johannesburg – When three unidentified men ambushed and fired a hail of bullets in what is believed to be an assassination attempt, Mvuseni Mazibuko knew that it was time for him to relinquish his position as an induna.

He said one bullet grazed his scalp while two others stuck to his stomach. Mazibuko of the Amangwe Tribal Council in Estcourt on the KwaZulu-Natal far midlands had previously survived another attempt on his life.


“I was asleep when the attackers who were armed with automatic rifles surrounded my house and fired several shots through my bedroom window and left me for dead. I surffered severe gunshot wounds,” Mazibuko told Sunday World.

He said fortunately he had sent his wife and kids away a week before the incident happened because of the anonymous threats he had received.

Mazibuko’s life was spared when he was able to crawl outside of the house and screamed for assistance.

“After surviving the ordeal, I took a decision to resign because I knew that if I continued, my family’s life would be in great danger. “I suspect that the reason for the attacks on traditional leaders is because of the stipend that we receive from the government,” said Mazibuko.

Since January last year, more than 25 izindunas (headmen) have been killed in Kwa-Zulu-Natal. The attacks are believed to be well-orchestrated assassinations as the victims are ambushed and killed in their homes.

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In many killings, the modus operandi is the same and the assailants do not steal anything from the homes of the deceased.

On Sunday last week, Bongumusa Mdluli, a traditional leader under the Manyavu Traditional Council in UMgungundlovu district was ambushed at his home and killed.

On the same weekend, another induna Bonginkosi Dlomo suffered the same fate, cornered at his home and killed.

Following a surge in killings in the province, the DA said the party had written to Premier Sihle Zikalala requesting him to consider instituting a commission of inquiry.

“The situation is volatile and requires urgent action to put an end to these vicious killings of traditional leaders. We are also concerned that in all the killings police seem to be failing to make arrests ,” said Zwakele Mncwango, a DA leader in the province.

In 2015, the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers recommended that the salaries of more than 6 000 country’s headmen be standardised to a flat annual salary of R 84 125.

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Sipho Hlomuka, KZN MEC for cooperative governance and traditional affairs bemoaned the assassinations, saying it undermined traditional leadership.

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