Another traditional leader has lost his life in KwaZulu-Natal, amplifying the call for a commission of inquiry. The inquiry is to probe the reasons behind the spate of killings of amakhosi and izinduna in the province.
Ambushed at home
Forty-two-year-old induna Nonina Mahlaba of the Shabalala traditional authority under the eMadlangeni local municipality was allegedly ambushed at her home in Charlestown by unknown assailants.
The armed assassins allegedly fired a volley of shots at the occupants of the house, killing Mahlaba’s 22-year-old son Thando Mahlaba, his visiting friend Asanda Zikhali, 19. A neighbour, Shonaphi Mbatha, 50, was also caught in the crossfire.
Mahlaba is believed to have braved the gunshots and fled outside, alerting her neighbours of the attack. This prompted Mbatha to come out. The gunmen panicked and unleashed more gunfire, killing Mbatha before finishing Mahlaba off.
Cogta condemns senseless killing
The KwaZulu-Natal department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs described the incident as inhumane and unsettling.
“It is deeply troubling that defenceless women and young men lost their lives in this manner. We commend the bravery of the neighbours who tried to help the Mahlaba family during this harrowing ordeal,” the department said in a statement.
The killing of Mahlaba brings to 51 the number of amakhosi and izinduna who have been assassinated in the province over the past three years. It’s not yet clear what is the motive behind the killings.
Her brutal murder also comes hot on the heels of the murder of another traditional leader. Inkosi Siphamandla Khumalo of the Amantungwa traditional authority in the same jurisdiction was shot dead. He was killed together with his wife, Queen MaDlamini-Khumalo, while in their vehicle.
The vehicle had apparently slowed down for a speed hump when assailants opened fire, killing them on the spot. Their four-year-old child, who was also in the vehicle, miraculously survived.
Previous calls for inquiry not acted on
Despite pressure from the IFP to establish an inquiry into the killings of traditional leaders, nothing has materialised. The IFP is the main opposition party in the KZN legislature.
“It is high time for the KZN provincial government, under the leadership of Premier Nomusa-Dube, to admit that it has failed to protect Amakhosi. She has followed in the footsteps of her predecessor, former KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala, who also failed dismally to protect Amakhosi.
“As the IFP, we were led to believe by the KZN provincial government that the KZN department of community safety and liaison had been allocated R11.5-million for the proposed establishment of a Community Safety Intervention Unit, for the protection of traditional leaders in KZN,” explained Blessed Gwala, the IFP’s leader in the provincial legislature.
Lost hope in commissions
If the commission sees the light of day, it will be the second inquiry in KZN into the scourge of assassinations. In 2016, former KZN Premier Wilies Mchunu established the Moerane commission. The commission was chaired by advocate Marumo Moeraneto. It was established to probe political killings in the province.
Despite costing taxpayers more than R15-million, many believe it was a dud. This was because its recommendations were never implemented. And the assassinations of politicians continues unabated.