_: KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mr W Mchunu;
KZN MEC for Education, Mr ES Mchunu;
uNdlunkulu waseMatheni uNdlunkulu P T Zulu;
Member of the KZN Legislature, uMntwana BZ Zulu;
KZNCCPA Provincial Chairperson Mr T Zuma;
CPF Board Provincial Chairperson Mr Mtambo;
SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General M. Ngobeni;
SAPS KZN Provincial management present;
Local Mayors and Councillors present;
Leaders from various Community Policing Forums and Business fraternity;
Communities of Matshamhlophe, Sigubudu and eMacekaneni;
Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen;
We would like to take this time to request that we all rise, observe a moment of silent in memory and join millions of South Africans as we commemorate the 44 people who lost their lives during the tragic incidents that unfolded at the Lonmin Marikana mine in the North West last year.
We decided to come here on this day, to seek a divine intervention on the on-going conflict here in eMatheni village, KwaNongoma. The prayer meeting comes in the wake of an on-going conflict between communities of Matshamhlophe, Sigubudu and eMacekaneni. More importantly, to ensure that as government we intervene through practical interventions towards lasting safety solutions.
This conflict, which started as a dispute between two families has escalated and claimed 20 lives since December last year, disrupted normal life and schooling in these areas, with 1486 learners being negatively impacted. This has reached unacceptable proportions and we have also learnt that some of the community members here have fled their homes and are sleeping in the bushes.
As this government we fought very hard for this freedom, we fought for people to exercise their democratic rights including choosing their preferred political affiliations. This includes freedom to freely engage, whether they disagree or not but to still remain tolerant towards one another.
During this difficult period many people and many our leaders dedicated their lives, many lost their lives so that we can attain freedom. By defeating the evils of apartheid, we demonstrated that despite our difference in political ideology we should not resolve our differences through violent actions.
One of the challenges facing this province is the proliferation of illegal firearms that are in circulation and this becomes a huge challenge which impedes our policing approach. As part of our interventions, we have now intensified our operations, which resulted in thousands of these firearms being confiscated and suspects arrested.
The proliferation of illegal firearms also contributes to the escalating incidents of crime. Last month, we destroyed over 36 000 illegal firearms and of this total, 17 746 were from KwaZulu-Natal. We know that there are still many such illegal firearms in circulation which are being used to commit these crimes.
We will continue to mount operations around this area and various hotspots including hostels and we are not apologetic about this. We will deploy more police officers in these affected areas and call upon you as communities to work with the police, through provision of any information that can lead to the apprehension of these perpetrators.
We have also begun to capacitate both the Detectives and Crime Intelligence because in any effective policing approach, intelligence serves as the nerve centre of policing. All the reported cases in Matshamhlophe, Sigubudu and eMacekaneni have been analysed as a collective and assigned to specialised investigators and task teams.
Whilst it is appreciated that police would arrest the ‘executors’ or those who actually pull the triggers, shift must now be towards the masterminds and the plotters of these killings. We must target those who have the money to buy the assassins. We are confident that arrests of these masterminds are imminent.
Ending these killings cannot be accorded to any individual but to a collective. It cannot be the responsibility of MEC Mchunu, the Provincial Commissioner or the Minister of Police to end these killings. We all have a duty.
The challenge we are faced with is to end these killings at Matshamhlophe, Sigubudu and eMacekaneni. In years to come all of us as leaders and society, shall be confronted with a duty of having to account to our children and future generations, on what exactly did we do when we were afforded opportunities to lead.
We will have to account and provide answers to the critical question on what contribution and role did we play to end these killings? The generations to come will judge us harshly if we fail to respond accordingly towards the creation of safe communities, safe from crime, rapes and murders.
Two months ago, I and MEC Mchunu visited and interacted with political leaders from different parties at Mbabazane, in the wake of increasing political intolerance which led to attacks and murders.
Similarly, what is happening in Matshamhlophe, Sigubudu and eMacekaneni are pure acts of criminality. We are facing acts of criminality which are disguised as political killings. Our message to you as leaders and community is that we need confront these challenges collectively.
We have to emphasise and appreciate efforts that have been taken by provincial government which established a Multiparty Political Oversight Committee, a body made out of all leadership of political parties operating in the affected areas, with a view of brokering a lasting and sustainable peace in the affected areas.
We also want to commend the work done by our police, under the leadership of Lieutenant General Ngobeni and her team. Often times, police have been unfairly accused of not effecting arrests when such matters are reported.
To their credit, the provincial police were able to quantify progress in terms of on-going investigations, without necessarily compromising some of the cases as they are before the criminal justice system.
We have reiterated that whilst we appreciate arrests, in the final analysis we have a duty to ensure that these arrests translate into harsh convictions. To achieve these, we have begun to improve our investigative and intelligence capacities.
We should never accept that people will be killed in the name of political differences, factional fights or taxi violence. South Africa, being a democratic state, guarantees freedom of association or political affiliation thus people must be free to express themselves.
In the recent past several people have been killed and injured in attacks either triggered by inter-party or intra-party political conflicts. These are largely fuelled by contest for the control of political turfs and various forms of power struggles within different political parties.
In fact, such tensions have got nothing to do with policing, but they require exemplary leadership. To this end, there is an urgent need for a continuous political education and entrenchment of democratic values amongst various political leaders.
The other identified challenge is around the inflammatory statements which are often made via media platforms, which have potential to cause tensions at grassroots levels. We must learn from our past, in life it is about living for the future.
As political and community leaders, we need to recognise that reckless statements that instigate violence, animosity and anarchy were part of our sad past, where lots of innocent lives were lost. We dare not go back to this scary and sad past.
We need to ensure that we strengthen community programmes to mobilise communities including political parties who must rise against crime. We must not allow criminals to infiltrate our community structures.
An important part of our legitimacy as government derives from our commitment to serve the people. Our common humanity dictates that as we rose against apartheid racism, so must we combine, to defeat the consequences of evil against humanity.
Collectively, we shall end these senseless killings around Matshamhlophe, Sigubudu and eMacekaneni.