A view looking up towards the hostel residences in the Glebelands area of Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal.
DURBAN – Police have linked the latest bloody violence at the notorious Glebelands hostel complex, in which Thobani Ngcobo was shot dead and two others injured in a room, to on-going turf wars within the taxi industry.
The fatal shooting of the 26-year-old man on Monday, brings the number of murders since March 2014 to 77.
“The motive of the attack is unknown at this stage. Umlazi police are investigating a case of murder and attempted murder. No arrests have been made at this stage,” KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, said on Thursday.
She said that the incident could be related to violence within the transport industry and not to tensions between Glebelands residents.
Community activist Vanessa Burger said Ngcobo was suspected of being a hit man.
“It is possible that this was taxi related as we have seen hit men who are working on a purely profit motive trying to stir dissent between competing taxi associations in the area so that they can in turn extort money from those associations for protection fees,” said Burger, who documents the violence in and around the hostel.
She said her research indicated that there was also a political motive behind the killings as there was “a distinct reluctance” by authorities to prosecute criminals.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela released her long-awaited findings into Glebelands in October last year.
In the report, titled “Stop the carnage”, Madonsela found that the eThekwini Municipality “failed to promote a safe and healthy environment within the Glebelands Hostel”, and had not given equitable access of municipal services to the local community.
The same report found that the police and metro police had failed in preventing, combating and investigating crime in the area or upholding the rights of Glebelands residents, and that the department of social development had failed in assisting victims of forced evictions and violence.
She also found that the police had provided contradictory statistics on the number of killings.
Madonsela’s recommendations were reduced to “six pillars” by Glebelands peace mediator Sibusiso Xulu – an independent security consultant – and an interministerial task team chaired by KZN MEC for transport, community liaison and safety, Mxolisi Kaunda.
Xulu told the African News Agency (ANA) that the pillars enveloped dealing with “low levels of safety and high levels of intimidation”.
Solutions included additional infrastructure and maintenance of existing infrastructure, governance structures within the hostel, ensuring that residents were skilled in order to find gainful employment, conflict resolutions through sports development and issues of leadership “across the board”.
“Community members have told us that leadership needs to be developed across the spectrum and must involve businesses, religious organisations, political leadership and community leaders,” said Xulu.
Critical to solving the violence was successful prosecutions, he said.
“We need the NPA [National Prosecution Authority] to play its part in prosecutions,” he said.
Xulu said the conflict in Glebelands had evolved from social issues (such as bed allocations) to a power struggle over politics and now involved the taxi industry.
He said that “bread and butter issues” such as high rates of unemployment and the hostel’s history of violence needed to be urgently addressed as part of the peace process.
MEC Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa, told ANA that the MEC was aware of the latest murder.
He said that numerous steps had been taken to ensure the safety of Glebelands residents, but he would not clearly state if Kaunda had actually visited the complex.
“The MEC doesn’t necessarily have to be there himself. The department is there working on a regular basis and the MEC is given regular updates from those on the peace committee,” said Mntungwa.