Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
Sunday’s incident in KwaMashu, in which SAPA reporter Mr Giordano Stolley’s car was torched, costing him a new laptop, two hard drives and family photographs, is not quite what the NFP would like to portray it as. I thank God that the reporters, Mr Stolley, Ms Bawinile Ngcobo and Ms Mpume Madlala, were unhurt. My sympathies are with them over this terrible incident.
What they experienced needs to be placed in context.
There will be a by-election in KwaMashu next Wednesday, to fill the seat left vacant by the murder of the IFP’s Councillor in that ward, Mr Themba Xulu.
Last month, on a Friday night, Councillor Xulu was abducted in KwaMashu by five men posing as police officers. On Saturday, as his distraught family awaited news, IFP supporters gathered in KwaMashu to surround them with support. Fears were rife that Councillor Xulu’s abduction was politically motivated and that he had fallen victim to thugs affiliated to the NFP.
The Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthetwa, visited KwaMashu that Saturday, calling for calm and reassuring the community of a police presence. As the Minister left, Ms Celiwe Shezi, still wearing her IFP T-shirt, was gunned down near the train station. An NFP KwaMashu Councillor – a member of the NFP’s National Working Committee – was arrested for her murder.
The following morning, Councillor Xulu’s body was found, riddled with bullets. IFP leaders again called for calm. That same day, the IFP’s Mr Bongani Lushaba was murdered. Mr Lushaba was a father of eight children.
A week later, IFP supporters were gathered outside Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court, where the NFP men accused of killing Ms Celiwe Shezi were on trial. In full view of the police and the media, a leader of the NFP – a member of the NFP’s peace delegation – took out a gun and shot dead an IFP supporter, Mr Siyabonga Dlamini. Mr Dlamini had been a witness to Councillor Themba Xulu’s abduction.
For weeks, leaders of the IFP implored people to stay calm, not to retaliate or seek revenge, and to assist the police with investigations. Tensions simmered in KwaMashu, with fear, grief and righteous anger pervading the community.
Then, last Sunday, IFP Councillor Mthembeni Majola was attacked by three armed men while travelling with his son. Thank God, they survived the hail of bullets. The following day, the IFP’s block chairperson in KwaMashu, Mr Sihle Menzi Biyela, was gunned down in cold blood.
As the IFP’s eThekwini Caucus leader Mr Mdu Nkosi said, “We keep telling our members to calm down, but we continue to bury members.”
There is no question that the violent attacks over the past two months were meant to intimidate the IFP’s members and supporters in KwaMashu, through the clear message that neither the police nor the media can offer safety. No one can stop our assailants.
Under these volatile circumstances, just days after their block chairperson was murdered, IFP supporters in KwaMashu saw the NFP’s leader, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi come rolling into town in a convoy of some
30 vehicles, ready to campaign for their votes in next week’s by-election.
As Mr Giordano Stolley pointed out, her presence in KwaMashu was far from wise. Community members took up bottles and sticks and loudly expressed their desire for Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi to leave. Shots were fired, but who fired those shots is unclear. It may have been the people wielding sticks and bottles, or it may have been the extensive entourage of the NFP leader’s bodyguards.
Regardless of the facts, Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi has jumped on her high horse accusing the IFP of creating a “no-go” area. Any thinking person’s response would be that the NFP has created it themselves.
Have your leaders kill a few people in a community, then see how welcome you are when you arrive to electioneer.
Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi is milking this incident for all it is worth, and then some. Police have been unable to verify her allegation that a woman was killed, or that two other cars were torched.
I am amazed at her accusation that, “Now everyone can see the IFP for what it really is.” What it really is, is the party she grew up in and led as National Chairperson for years and years, until she grew tired of waiting for the top position. What the IFP really is, is the party she did her utmost to divide and split, through lies, treachery and even a failed court bid.
The IFP’s supporters in KwaMashu are a community of angry, fearful residents in a situation of immense and on-going tension. They have been attacked and murdered. They have been killed in front of the police. They have been living in fear for their lives for months on end.
The NFP created this powder keg and Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi lit it.
I am not justifying the vandalism that took place on Sunday. I am pointing out that we are dealing with people who have been under duress for months. Outbursts like this cannot be unexpected.
Weeks ago, I asked Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi to go to her people and call for an end to violence, just as I was calling for peace among IFP supporters. This was the groundwork that needed to be laid before our two parties could come together and seek a resolution to the tensions between us. Instead, she arrived to campaign for the NFP to take over where the IFP’s leader lay dead.
The IFP does not believe in “no-go” areas. We operate within the rules of democracy and the electoral system. We will therefore ask again that our supporters in KwaMashu remain calm and refrain from acting on their distress. Our supporters know that the IFP is a party of non-violence.
But we also know, just as Mrs kaMagwaza-Msibi knows, that you can only push people so far. The leadership of the IFP will remain the fence holding in our people’s emotions. I ask the leadership of the NFP to stop being the dog that runs up and down outside the fence, inciting those emotions to burst.
I hope that Mr Giordano Stolley, Ms Bawinile Ngcobo and Ms Mpume Madlala will look deeper into what happened on Sunday and ask why KwaMashu really erupted.
Yours in the service of our nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP