By Sharika Regchand
A Newcastle councillor was killed at her home in Madadeni yesterday, just two days before her vote could have been the deciding factor in transferring control of the Amajuba District Municipality from the IFP to the ANC.
Thenjiwe Buthelezi, 66, of the Federal Congress (Fedcon), was shot four times in the head and neck at about 7am.
Police Superintendent Phindile Radebe said neighbours had seen two men fleeing moments after hearing gunshots.
Four spent cartridges were found at the scene.
While Radebe said the motive for the killing was unknown, speculation in the area was that it was politically motivated.
Regional ANC chairman Arthur Zwane was convinced of a political motive. He said many Fedcon members had aligned themselves with the ANC.
In the 25-seat council, this resulted in 13 ANC and Fedcon members on one side, and 12 IFP and DA members on the other, giving the ANC enough votes to oust IFP mayor Mkhulu Mlangeni and DA Speaker Peter Croft.
However, said Zwane, certain factions within Fedcon disapproved of their councillors' support of the ANC.
"They (Fedcon) tried to fire these councillors and there were numerous court cases about this," he said. Zwane claimed that several meetings where voting was to take place were abruptly ended by the Speaker, in agreement with the DA and IFP.
The ANC eventually went to court to force the IFP to call a meeting, where a vote of no-confidence was to be taken against Mlangeni and Croft.
Zwane said the meeting was due to take place on Friday but was called off because there was doubt about whether a Fedcon councillor was eligible to vote.
"We then called it for Tuesday. It is strange that Buthelezi was killed when this meeting was finally about to take place.
"What further confirms our suspicion that her killing was politically motivated is that nothing was taken from her or from her house," said Zwane.
"She lived a very clean and transparent life, and was deeply religious."
Fedcon spokesman Jerry Sibiya would not comment on the allegations, saying the police were investigating the matter.
Mlangeni said the IFP distanced itself from Buthelezi's murder and sympathised with her family.
"Her murder was uncalled-for. It is up to us to assist the police to apprehend the perpetrators," he said.
Mlangeni added that while it was well known that there were tensions between the IFP and other political parties in the council, the party had had nothing to do with Buthelezi's murder.
Fedcon district chairwoman Daphne Tshabalala said Buthelezi had been kind-hearted and dedicated to her job.
"Her death has come as a shock to us," she said.
DA spokesperson Alf Lees extended his condolences to Buthelezi's family. Lees said the party hoped the murder was not related to her change of political allegiance in the Amajuba council.
He confirmed that Buthelezi had begun voting with the ANC instead of the IFP, as she had in the past.
"The struggle for control of the Amajuba council has been long and drawn out. This can only have a negative impact upon service delivery to the Amajuba community," said Lees.
Anybody with information on the incident should contact CrimeStop at 086 001 0111.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury on January 25, 2010
|Crime Date/Time:||24 Jan 2010, 00:01 AM|
|Reported By:||Report A Crime|
|Reported Date:||25 Jan 2010, 11:01 AM|