|Sphelele Ngubane (The Mercury) 18 April 2016
VULNERABLE residents of the violence-torn Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi are furious about how they have suffered at the hands of the government and are now begging international organisations to intervene.
This follows yet another brutal murder – on Saturday night – of a resident, Zodwa Sibiya, a PR councillor in the area and who was set to contest the local government elections.
Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said that at about 9.40pm the 47-year-old woman was shot in her room at the hostel. The motive was not known, but a murder case had been opened.
Yesterday, residents addressed the media and civil society organisations at the hostel. The men, who feared naming themselves and being photographed, said they were living in constant fear, and every morning they had no guarantee they would return to their beds. They were adamant the killings were orchestrated and stemmed from tribalism and political violence.
Vanessa Burger, a human rights activist who has been working with the hostel dwellers, said there had been more than 60 murders at the hostel and no successful convictions. Twelve people had been tortured and more than 1 000 tenants had been violently evicted, displaced, and left destitute.
One resident said: “We plan to appeal to organisations like the AU and the UN to come to our rescue. This is no different from genocide – 62 people have died and we know there is a list of people to be killed. Seven people from that list have already been killed, and we have reported this to relevant authorities, but nothing has been done.”
The men said they were dismayed at reports that the murdered residents had been fighting with their killers over beds.
“There is a group of people who are against the unity that was formed in this hostel. We previously had tribalism fights, and when we united against that there are those who continued. They now pursue anyone who condemns the violence they commit,” one hostel dweller said.
They said they were now even scared to visit their families, because the hit men had previously gone to kill hostel dwellers at their homes.
Mayor James Nxumalo said the city had been robbed of a leader when the country was working hard to redress gender imbalances.
“Such cowardly acts must be condemned in the strongest way possible. Councillor Sibiya has been a brave leader who continued to serve in the face of the brutalities and loss of lives in her ward,” he said.
The eThekwini council Speaker, Logie Naidoo, said the “senseless” killing of Sibiya had come as a shock to him and fellow councillors.
“We are devastated that the life of a dedicated and hard-working person like Sibiya has been ended so senselessly. We convey our condolences to the family, her colleagues and friends, and hope the police move swiftly to arrest those responsible for this dastardly deed,” he said.
Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said Sibiya’s murder was “a real setback”.
“Just last week the KZN executive council directed that a special task team, made out of a number of departments, assembled to work with hostel inmates, police, eThekwini metro and the Department of Community Safety and Liaison to bring an end to this conflict,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org