Ward 88 Councillor S’bu Maphumulo has been threatening the Abahlali leadership in our Silver City branch in Umlazi. When he was appointed the councillor was not known in the area and after he became a councillor he never visited the residents there. The first time that he was seen in the area was after our recent protests in support of the restoration of our human dignity. On Sunday, 9 July 2017, while Abahlali were holding their local community meeting, Cllr Maphumulo stormed the meeting with seven armed men, three hitmen and four police officers, in full police uniform, from GG Umlazi. He pointed to the local Abahlali chairperson, Lungelo Hlongwane, and said ‘’here is the man”. The armed men who had stormed the meeting then asked what the meeting was all about, was it about road blockades, or what. Lungelo said this was one of the regular community meetings that they hold about their lives and their future.
On Friday, 7 July at 4am Lungelo received a call from Cllr Maphumulo accusing him of organising a road blockade. Lungelo told him that he was at work and was not aware of the road blockade. On Sunday, 9 July at about 8pm Cllr Maphumulo called Lungelo alleging that Abahlali were going to blockade the road. He threatened Lungelo saying that “ngiyinsizwa mina ngizokukhombisa ukuthi mina ngingubani’’ Lungelo said he could not understand what the Cllr meant. Cllr Maphumulo then sent Lungelo a text message saying that ‘’we must learn to respect each other”. He went on to say that he did not like the manner in which Lungelo responded to the call of Cllr. He said that there is no need for Lungelo to speak to him like how he has. He said Lungelo “must grow up”. Immediately after that Lungelo received a call from someone calling himself a police offer from Marianhill. The alleged ;police officer’ said that he got Lungelo’s number from Cllr Maphumulo who had informed him that Silver City were blocking the road. The alleged police officer advised the community to rather approach the Mayor’s office. In five minutes time Lungelo received another call from an unknown male voice. The following number was used to call Lungelo: 063 572 6499. The man said “ngiyeza ngizoshaya ikhanda” meaning (I am here to kill you). Five minutes after that Lungelo received another call of a man who introduced himself as the Station Commissioner, Ntuli. The Station Commissioner said to Lungelo that Abahlali must not burn the road. He went on to suggest that we must nominate five representatives to negotiate with the police. Lungelo told him that the community will discuss things and decide what to do. The alleged Station Commander asked Lungelo to report back to him. A community meeting was called and it was decided that everyone would go to the police station together. Lungelo called this man and told him that the community was coming in their number into police station but he refused to meet with them.
Cllr Maphumulo arrived at the community meeting with five armed hitmen who suddenly out guns and said ‘voetsak”. What was noted was that all these men, including Cllr Maphumulo, were drunk. While addressing the community meeting Cllr Maphumulo confessed that he is the one that gave Lungelo’s number to all the unknown men that called to threaten him, including the man that pretended to be the police officer. The gunmen continued to threaten the community while the Councillor was addressing the community.
On Monday, 10 July at about 6pm the community gathered for a meeting. Nyawose, one of the Councillor’s notorious thugs came to ask what they were doing. We said that we were preparing for our meeting. Cllr Maphumulo arrived in his car, he pointed out, Mabo, an activist. The Councillor then got out of his car. He was with his five hitmen and two of his ward committee members. He drew his gun in full view of the community and made several shots with the aim to intimidate and maybe also to disperse the community and break up the meeting. At about 9pm on the same Monday, two of his hitmen arrived at the house of Nhlanhlo, a ward committee member. Another ward committee member asked for Lungelo’s house and said that they want to kill Lungelo. They looked for Lungelo’s house without success.
On Tuesday, 11 July at about 3am about twenty police vans arrived at Mabo Phungula’s house and arrested Mabo. The police said they also wanted Mabo’s sister Ncamsile who was not found. Mabo was charged with Public Violence and his bail was set at R500. The community had a report back meeting at about 7:30pm at that meeting. The Cllr came with the police and one of his hitmen. The community asked who was the man with the gun. The Cllr said he was his bodyguard. The community asked for a proof and a firearm licence, the guy only produced his student card from Coastal College where he studies. The police never said a word about the unlicensed firearm. Immediately the Cllr and hitman left while the police were still addressing the community. The community tried to open a case of intimidation by the Cllr and his hitmen but police refused to open charges against them.
On Wednesday, 12 July at 21:51pm Lungelo received a call from Cllr who then apologised for his behaviour. But later on Ncamsile, Mabo’s sister and another activist received banging knocks from the door and a voice saying “your days are numbered”.
On 14 July, after constant organisation and pressure from the community, we were relieved to hear that this gangster Councillor has been arrested and charged with possession of unlicensed fire arm at Umlazi GG police station. However we were immediately disappointed to hear that the Cllr was released on police bail on the following day on Saturday, 15 July, without any arrangements being made to ensure that he will not take any action against those who resisted his intimidation and pushed for his arrest.
Before becoming a Councillor Maphumulo was arrested and jailed. We remember the ANC debating whether convicted members should stand for election as candidates or not. Abahlali takes death threats very seriously. We hope the ANC will investigate whether a gangster like Maphumulo should really be a leader that can be trusted by our community and our country.
We are facing a gangster state in KwaZulu-Natal, a state that uses threats, violence, torture and murder to oppress us. In the twelve years of our struggle we have shown that we will not be broken by thuggery and intimidation. We would like to remind the gangster politicians, and the police officers, security guards, land invasions unit members and hitmen that associate themselves with this politic of blood, that since last year, through ongoing struggle, we have been able to win the conviction of two councillors, one hitman and one police officer on murder charges. We will do everything in our power to ensure that there is no impunity for repression.