Killing of traditional leaders hampers development – Mashatile

Deputy President Paul Mashatile has condemned the killings of traditional leaders, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mashatile said this while addressing the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Tuesday. 

“As an institution located in rural areas, it is important that we collaborate to identify obstacles that are hampering community development, such as the killing of traditional leaders, especially in the province of KwaZulu-Natal,” Mashatile said.

Rise in the killing of traditional leaders

“We encourage amakhosi and izinduna [chiefs and herdmen] to continue working closely with the government to address this challenge effectively.

“As the government, we strongly condemn these acts of violence and urge the community to serve as the government’s eyes and ears by reporting those who conspire or have committed such crimes to the appropriate authorities.

“Our law enforcement agencies are also working hard to hold those responsible to account.”

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned, in the strongest terms, the rise in the killing of traditional leaders, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

Said Ramaphosa at the time: “Our law enforcement agencies are hard at work to ensure that those responsible are brought to book.

“On behalf of the government, I wish to pass on our deepest condolences to all families for the loss of their loved ones and to you for the loss of your colleagues. 

“May their souls and those of other traditional leaders who have passed on since the last opening of the House continue to rest in peace.”

Attack on the state

In 2023, KwaZulu-Natal premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube condemned the killings, calling them an attack on the state as they threaten to destabilise an institution critical to the stability and order of society.

In a meeting with the police in January 2022, it emerged that the police were investigating 51 murder cases dating back to 2012, and at the time, 30 people had been arrested, while 18 cases were still pending in court.

Mashatile added that the government was willing to collaborate with the traditional leaders to address the serious issues confronting communities.

He said: “We must collaborate to address substance abuse, crime, gender-based violence [GBV], and femicide.

“We know that gender-based violence has a negative impact on socio-economic conditions, particularly for women and girls.

“Therefore, ending this scourge is urgent and critical for our nation’s development.”

Dealing with GBV

He said he was also grateful for traditional leaders’ role in dealing with GBV.

“You, as traditional leaders, must never allow anyone to act violently and abusively against their partners in the name of culture,” Mashatile said.

“Together, we must stand firm and say no to all forms of abuse and violence.

“Another cause of concern in our communities is the prevalence of HIV/Aids and TB, particularly among adolescent girls and young women.

“As part of our prevention efforts, we must continue to communicate good and compelling messages to young people about delaying the commencement of sexual interactions as much as possible and, when they do begin, having sexually safe relationships and living healthy lifestyles.”

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