The Independent: Bishops plead for end to political killings


21 July 2016

Johannesburg – The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has made a desperate plea for an end to the rise in political assassinations ahead of next month’s municipal polls, calling the trend “one of the biggest threats to South Africa’s hard-won democracy.”

“We are saddened to see that, after 22 years into democracy, political killings, which are sad reminders of our painful past, are still happening,” said Bishop Abel Gabuza, chair of SACBC’s Justice and Peace Commission, according to a statement released by the body on Thursday.

Khanyisile Ngobese Sibisi was shot dead during a Mandela Day event in Ladysmith. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

This followed the latest spate of shootings in KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed the lives of two ANC candidates within a few hours of each other. Those two incidents took the number of seemingly politically motivated killings to at least 12, since the start of the elections period. The province of KwaZulu-Natal has borne the brunt of violence, whith police stats showing that some 90% of presumed political killings took place there.

The growing violence, particularly in KZN, is reminiscent of the low-level civil war that raged in the province ahead of the first democratic elections in 1994.

“We should make sure that we do not develop into a country where assassinations of candidates before elections are considered normal. Given the sacredness of human life, even a death of one candidate during an election should be considered as one too many,” Gabuza said.

Gabuza also called on the criminal justice system to deal effectively deal with the spate of killings, regardless of the “party political affiliation” of those involved.

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