by Nkululeko Nene
On Tuesday, the 20-year-old shared vivid memories of the night his father was killed. Thembinkosi was shot hours before he could attend a community meeting that was addressed by former eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo at a stadium in Mayville, Durban.
When Qumbelo was alerted to the shooting, he rushed to the scene hoping to find his father alive.
“I froze when I touched his lifeless body, which was still warm but covered with blood. He died in my arms. His body slumped forward as if he was begging for forgiveness.”
“I tried to pick him up but did not have the strength”.
At the time of his death, Thembinkosi was president of the Cato Crest Residential Association but had aligned himself with the shack dwellers’ organisation, Abahlali BaseMjondolo which had held several demonstrations demanding RDP houses.
Qumbelo said it was a planned execution because the killers shot him the back of his head.
“I have not recovered. I keep having bad dreams and talk to myself. I am concerned his killers, who are still at large, could be watching my movements, thinking I am preparing revenge.”
Qumbelo believes his father was killed because he was at the forefront of exposing corruption in the allocation of houses.
He had switched his allegiance from the IFP to join the ANC before forming his community organisation.
“He was enjoying a lot of community support. Political leaders felt threatened that his popularity would propel him to a leadership position,” his son said.
On the day he died, Qumbelo said his father feared for his life.
“He knew his days were numbered. Several people warned him he was walking into a death trap. They found 10 spent cartridges where he died,” he said.
Two months later, community leader Nkululeko Gwala, also aligned to the shack dwellers’ organisation, was gunned down in the same way. Gwala was shot 12 times by two men hours after a high level ANC delegation met an angry community.
Four years later, neither case had been solved.
Gwala’s girlfriend Thembi Mazobana said: “I have never been told about the commission. I am not going to be part of it. Period. I have suffered enough already because nobody has been arrested for Nkululeko’s death,” she said.