Maverick Citizen

IMIBIZO ‘SNUB’

Angry AmaMpondomise King cancels crime summit after E Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane no-show

Angry AmaMpondomise King cancels crime summit after E Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane no-show
AmaMpondomise King Zwelozuko Matiwane and his wife Ndlovukazi Sinokuhle Matiwane in Qumbu, Eastern Cape. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

The king of the AmaMpondomise in the Eastern Cape, Zwelozuko Matiwane, has cancelled a crucial crime Imibizo that he had called after the province’s premier, Oscar Mabuyane, and Police Minister Bheki Cele failed to show up. Mabuyane apologised to the king on Friday.

The angry king of the AmaMpondomise, King Zwelozuko Matiwane, this week refused to continue with a well-attended Imibizo he had called to address violent crime, after Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane failed to show up.

Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Yanga Funani, said on Friday the premier had apologised to the king.

“The premier had tendered an apology to the kingdom and had further proposed that the provincial government and the kingdom hold a multistakeholder prayer in the area which will also serve as an awareness campaign addressing crime,” he said.

The king’s spokesperson, Nkosi Vulindlela Mditshwa, said the king was feeling undermined by Mabuyane as the Imibizo had been called to make plans to stop the murders.

The focus of the Imibizo was specifically the Mhlontlo Municipality and the towns of Qumbu and Tsomo where violent crime is rife.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Police don’t know what they are doing’: Intercape asks court to order an investigation into 165 bus attacks

Close to 50 people have been killed in the small Mhlontlo district since January and many residents have fled and are in hiding. 

King Zwelozuko Matiwane called the Imibizo to set down for Tuesday with his people and the Eastern Cape government.

After noting that government officials were absent, the king became angry and said he felt undermined.

He then decided to call off his Imibizo and left the venue without speaking.

Mditshwa said the king was angry. 

“The King feels being let down and undermined and we received the confirmation that the premier was going to be here. We did not even receive one word explaining why the premier is not here or if he had delegated somebody to come. The King is feeling undermined,” Mditshwa said.

“His Majesty convened a special meeting of the advisory committee two weeks ago and he raised a worrying situation of the deaths that are happening in this Kingdom of AmaMpondomise and he then requested that an Imibizo including prayer should take place.

“The objective of this Imibizo was to allow the King to raise his concerns about the deaths that are happening in this country and the brutal murder of innocent people. He was trying to assist the government of the Eastern Cape,” Mditshwa added.

Every day we see dead people and they are all shot… We are seeing blood every day. We do not feel safe at all.

“His intervention was aimed at normalising the situation here in his kingdom and there are quite a number of things that he wanted the provincial leadership of government to take note of – their absence at this  Imibizo makes the King feel that we cannot continue.

He said they would set a new date but “people were dying and have died”.

“We should have already started with several programmes already.”

The king wanted to ensure that families receive counselling.

Families affected by the murder spree said they were very traumatised.

Mditshwa said even though they didn’t have the number of these deaths, the kingdom has lost a lot of people since January.

“Unfortunately we don’t collect statistics but we have had quite a huge number of murders in Tsolo and Qumbu. 

“The King himself attended to more than five families who suffered losses and that is why he was so touched and he felt that he wanted to address his own people and government. It is not going to help for him to address his own people only when the government is not playing its part in terms of these interventions he wanted to happen,” Mditshwa added.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SA would benefit from crime harm index to monitor and target impact of violent offences

“People are still traumatised here in Mhlontlo, that is why it was so urgent to the King that something gets done,” he added.

One of the elderly women who was at the venue to attend the Imibizo said  people were dying like flies in the two towns.

“Every day we see dead people and they are all shot. I came here with the hope that we are going to hear a solution from both the King and the government. We are seeing blood every day. We do not feel safe at all. Our young children are also growing up in this environment and these killings have spread across Qumbu and Tsolo now,” she said. She asked to remain anonymous because she feared for her life.

“What we have experienced this year is a disaster,” she added. 

“We also feel that the King is being undermined and all of us as AmaMpondomise because there is no reason that the government cannot attend this Imibizo,” she added. 

Bloodshed

The list of murders in the two towns is long and brutal.

On 10 June, five people were gunned down, including a bodyguard, in N2 between Tsolo and Qumbu. They were Qumbu businessman Zolile Lutinto, Thembela Matolweni (46) and Lutinto’s three bodyguards, Thokozani “TK” Boyce (32) of eMaXesibeni, Lucky Dlamini (36) and Mlungisi Shezi (40), both from KwaZulu-Natal.

Police said at the time that the deceased were on their way to Qumbu in a Mercedes-Benz and a Toyota double cab bakkie when eight gunmen appeared and started shooting at them. The gunmen also overpowered the bodyguards of the deceased and took their weapons and phones before killing them as well. 

In January, four bodies were found in a rondavel in Nyanisweni Locality in Sulenkama, Qumbu. 

It is not yet known what led to the killings. The deceased were identified at the time as Limasile Tshwane (60), Bulelani Tshwane (52), Nqobile Tshwane (15) and Unako Tshwane (15).

In August, an off-duty police sergeant, Obey Sotewu, was killed in his vehicle after visiting a shebeen with a friend. Sotewu was attached to the Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit in Mthatha. His friend was alleged to have disappeared with his service weapon.

Also in August, an ANC municipal ward councillor and a racehorse breeder were gunned down.

Mhlontlo councillor Mkhululi Khonza (50) was shot while driving in Bhalasi village, Qumbu.

Champion racehorse breeder Madodebandla “Bandla” Xhentsa (47) and his jockey, Lindani Dube (27), were also shot while driving on a gravel road in the Balasi Administrative Area near Qumbu. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Statistic of out-of-control violence – 969 women murdered in South Africa in just three months

Also in Tsolo, the police managed to link a 30-year-old man through his DNA to at least 14 cases of rape that occurred there and in Butterworth. Some of the cases date back to 2016. The suspect was arrested and charged with 30 charges of rape, robbery and kidnapping. The police said he was targeting women walking home from work, students and pupils. His youngest victim was 15. DM

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