Assassination report is more proof eThekwini is SA’s hit capital – activist

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DURBAN, 23 March 2018 – A social justice activist known for her work in exposing allegations of police torture and assassination at uMlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel, says a report released this month is further proof that Durban’s metro is the country’s assassination capital.

“The fact that eThekwini has become the centre of [alleged assassinations] is not surprising given its toxic leadership,” Vanessa Burger told African News Agency (ANA) on Thursday night.

Burger, who works with victims of violence at Glebelands, was responding to the report, “The rule of the gun”, which examined contract killings and attempted hits in South Africa between 2000 and 2017.

The collaborative 36-page report is part of the “Assassination Witness” project and was produced by the University of Cape Town’s centre for criminology and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GITOC).

“According to this data – and I believe the number of hits in KZN is considerably under-recorded – the overlap between local government corruption, areas where the ANC has maintained a hegemony, and a high rate of contract killings converge with the eThekwini Municipality which has by far the highest assassination rate in SA,” said Burger.

The report shows that from 2012 to 2016, eThekwini Municipality had the highest number of political hits countrywide and they took place in local municipalities that did not experience a change in power in the 2016 local government elections.

“The political hit areas that did not experience a change in power suggests that they could be the result of internal power struggles within…the ANC,” according to the report.

The report also sought to examine the potential correlation between corruption and assassinations per province from 2012 to 2016 but stated while conclusions could be drawn the “data was insufficient to show any significant relationships or threats”.

It said the weaknesses in the data were that it relied on media reports and data from non-profit organisations such as Corruption Watch. Corruption Watch told the researchers their data had a Gauteng bias as they were not only based in Johannesburg but did more outreach programmes in that province.

Despite this, the report said while Gauteng had the highest number of corruption reports, KZN “has the highest rate of potentially corruption-related assassinations”.

It said after looking at corruption reports at the district and local municipality level over the period 2012 to 2016 “hits” usually occurred at municipalities that had “significant number of corruption reports”.

The report – which broke down assassinations and assassination attempts into four categories –  found that nationally, “the taxi industry accounted for the largest number of hits (43%), followed by the political (22%) and organized-crime (22%) categories. Hits that fall in the personal category represent the smallest proportion of the cases (13%)”.

The preferred method for hits was by firearm (83%) followed by stabbing, strangulation, poisoning, beating or bludgeoning and car ‘accidents’. The preferred location for hits was inside or outside the victim’s home.

KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number of hits recorded (522 cases or 40%) over the timeframe studied with the majority occurring in the taxi industry followed by political incidents.

It also revealed that Gauteng taxi bosses often hired KwaZulu-Natal hitmen (izinkabi) “to carry out assassinations in taxi conflicts”.

– African News Agency (ANA)