The drive-by shooting that claimed the lives of three women in Inanda, Durban, at the weekend was part of intimidation tactics devised to weaken and undermine the country’s Constitution ahead of the 1 November municipal elections.
This is the firm position of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster, said Police Minister Bheki Cele and Zizi Kodwa, the Deputy Minister in the Presidency, responsible for State Security.
Accompanied by Police Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale, Cele and Kodwa on Tuesday visited the area to assess the situation.
Ncami Shange, 34, Beatrice Nzama, 60, and Philisiwe Jili, 37, were killed on Saturday when a black Opel Corsa bakkie, with five occupants opened fire on a group of people waiting outside a local primary school ahead of a community meeting.
A further five people were injured and taken to hospital.
Kodwa said: “This is nothing but an act of intimidation and attack on the country’s Constitution.
“The [victims were] people who [were] exercising their right to elect a leader of their choice and to participate in the elections, which will strengthen democracy.”
Speaking on behalf of the JCPS cluster, Kodwa urged the public not to be intimidated by such brazen criminality.
The cluster fleshed out a plan that would protect the upcoming Local Government Elections. The plan, Kodwa said, would not just protect political parties, but the entire system.
“It’s important that we guard the system against such acts of intimidation. It is the responsibility of the JCPS to ensure that such intimidation, at the end of the day, do not triumph over the Constitution and weaken our democracy,” he said.
From initial investigations, Cele said it was clear that the shooting was a tactic aimed at instilling fear.
“Clearly the person who committed this terrible crime was intimidating rather than targeting a particular person or candidate,” he said.
The matter has since been referred to the KZN SAPS Political Task Team.
“The matter is on the agenda of the JCPS cluster, but also is on the agenda of the… provincial Commissioner, [who is] working on prevention [of violence in during the… elections and] going forward,” said Cele.
Similar attacks, he said, have been happening in Gauteng and in the Western Cape.
“There have been a lot of problems in Gauteng, especially in the Tshwane area. We’re also having problems in the Western Cape, especially in the Gugulethu area. It’s a problem that is linked to the elections,” he said.
With regards to the Inanda incident, the Minister said it should be understood in the context that the area is already crime-ridden.
“It could be a combination of the two [crime and political intolerance], so those are the things that need to be looked at,” he said.
He said it was fortunate that members of the South African National Defence Force are still deployed in Gauteng and KZN, as this will assist the police to have a hold on the scale of such attacks.
The Minister said a SAPS budget to protect the elections will have to be found to safeguard the polls.
“We have made our budget [needs] known through the National Commissioner and the CFO, which will be presented to Cabinet and National Treasury,” he said.