Police investigating Durban ‘vigilante group’
By Bongani Mthethwa, The Sowetan, 18 April 2007
Police have launched an investigation into a recently formed “vigilante group” in Inanda‚ north of Durban‚ which a shack dwellers’ movement claim is armed with dangerous weapons.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokeswoman Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said on Tuesday that the police had no knowledge of the “militia” operating in the area‚ and confirmed the investigation. This comes after the Abahlali baseMjondolo shack dweller movement raised concerns over the group‚ which it claimed was established to intimidate their members.
Mbhele acknowledged the existence of the group‚ known as “Qina Mhlali”‚ but said they were not authorised to “carry dangerous weapons as well unlicensed firearms”.
She said claims by Abahlali that the group was armed with all sorts of weapons‚ including spears‚ bush knives‚ pangas and guns “will be followed up and investigated by the station commander”.
On Thursday last week‚ Abahlali‚ whose actions have often brought them into open conflict with the ANC‚ accused two ANC ward councillors‚ Boxer Zulu and Knowledge Phohlo of forming the vigilante group to intimidate their members.
Phohlo denied that the group had been started by him and Zulu but said it was started by the community to fight crime in the area. He said they had only been invited as councillors to the launch.
Phohlo said they supported anything that can help in the fight against the crime‚ as long as it was legal and supported by the police.
“Those guys are dealing with crime. Anything that fights crime‚ and if it is recognised by the police‚ we support it. We only have a problem if it is not recognised by the police‚” said Phohlo.