‘Killing season’ persists in KwaZulu-Natal

Slain ANC member Ntokozo “Lithi” Maphumulo shouted out that he was dying seconds after he was shot outside his mother’s home in eMahlongwa, Scottburgh, this week.

The 41-year-old, who was killed by men in police uniform, was a former councillor and regional executive member of the ANC Youth League on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast. Maphumulo’s name is the latest to be added to the body count of murdered politicians in the province.

When City Press arrived at his home on Thursday afternoon, his sisters pointed to the spot where his lifeless body had lain in a pool of blood and rain water, just two weeks after the birth of his child.

Recalling the events of Tuesday night, Maphumulo’s sister Nokubonga said that his killers must have known his routine well. Every day, he would go to the family home for supper before proceeding to his own house just a few kilometres away.

“One of the children had just walked into the room where we all were. He said, ‘malume has just arrived, he is sitting in the car’. His hand was on the door handle when the first gunshot rang out. Our mother, who is a nurse, immediately dropped to the floor. There was a second gunshot and he screamed: ‘Awe, ma’. The third shot came, and again he cried out, ‘Awe ma, ngazengafa [I’m dying]’,” Nokubonga said.

Maphumulo 'had no enemies'

She said that even as her brother cried out, none of the people in the house had realised that it was him who had been shot.

Their older brother, Sbu, ran outside to see what had happened; two young children followed him. Men holding guns told them to go back inside the house. The shooters then sped off in Maphumulo’s car.

Another of Maphumulo’s sisters, Lulu Zulu, said her brother’s killers had the audacity to return to the crime scene to pick up the spent cartridges.

Zulu said that, when she arrived from Pietermaritzburg after receiving a call about the shooting, she found her brother’s bloody body lying in the rain.

“He was just lying there, helpless. Such a strong man, just [lying] in his own blood,” she said.

Zulu said the family was in the dark about the motive for the killing as Maphumulo had no enemies that they knew of.

“If he was still a councillor, maybe we could get a lead from that, but he was no longer one, so we really have no idea,” Zulu said, wrapping the blanket draped across her shoulders tighter around her body.

At least 60 people are believed to have been assassinated in KwaZulu-Natal since April 2014.

Premier Willies Mchunu established a commission of inquiry into the political killings in October 2016. The commission, which has a budget of R15 million and is being chaired by Advocate Marumo Moerane, began its work in March.

In the past two weeks alone, four people have been shot dead at the Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi.

The commission is expected to complete its work by the end of this year.

Addressing a meeting of the Young Communist League shortly after visiting the Maphumulo home, former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu warned the gathering that the killing season had once again been declared in the province.

He called for extra vigilance and for people to take precautions – such as driving past their homes and scanning the area first before entering, particularly late at night.

He also called for the gathering to observe a moment of silence for Maphumulo, after which the group sombrely sang Hamba kahle Umkhonto weSizwe.

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