eThekwini worker shot dead at depot

A driver of a tipper truck, was shot dead on Tuesday afternoon inside the municipal office in Springfield.

A driver of a tipper truck, was shot dead on Tuesday afternoon inside the municipal office in Springfield.

Published May 9, 2024


Fearful eThekwini Municipality workers have compared working in the City’s water unit as the equivalent of “working in a war zone”, following yet another murder of a city employee this week.

The employee, a driver of a tipper truck, was shot dead on Tuesday afternoon inside the municipal office in Springfield. He was shot at least 20 times.

His details had not been released by Thursday.

Close to eight workers in that unit have been assassinated since 2022.

Officials in the municipality with a background in law enforcement said “syndicate-like behaviour” had taken hold of the unit hence the prevalence of the killings.

They highlight widespread theft and fights for water tanker contracts as part of the problematic behaviour.

Provincial police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said police in Sydenham were investigating a murder case after a 40-year-old man was shot dead on Electron Road.

Ngcobo said the victim was found with multiple gunshot wounds and the motive for the killing is unknown.

Several workers in that unit have been killed in the recent past. Amos Ngcobo was shot dead in his office in Springfield, while Phumzile Qatha was shot dead at the municipal depot in Ottawa in 2022.

A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “It’s like a war zone there. People are getting shot at work and if they go out to service communities, they are attacked by irate community members who have been without water.

“The question is no longer how the workers are feeling but what is the management doing,” said the source.

Speaking on Tuesday’s murder, a senior city official in the unit who was briefed on the incident said it appeared the assassins had been waiting for the victim.

“They knew he was out with the truck and would be returning. He parked the truck and walked towards his car. He stopped to chat to the security officers and 3 metres from those security officers the assassins attacked,” said the official.

“These attacks are a serious threat to the unit. Ngcobo was the first person to be killed. Since then, 7 or 8 people in one unit have been killed. This has created a climate of fear. I believe the police should set up a task team to look into this.”

Another official said there was a criminal syndicate operating within the unit.

“Metro police arrested some people for theft of diesel, those cases fell apart because the witnesses did not want to testify and supervisors that try to curb this behaviour get killed. There are people who just do not want the municipality to buy its own tankers and want the contract to run endlessly.”

Head of Water and Sanitation Ednick Msweli said the killing was a tragedy.

“We are already spending about R150 million each year escorting workers when they go to communities. Now they are targeted at work, killed in places where we do not expect such to happen.

“Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda spoke to the State Security Agency and their report tells us something is amiss but it does not tell us who is doing what.”

The head said there were concerns around water tankers and theft of diesel.

“We are now keeping reports on trucks, the amount of diesel they use.

There are instances where we have found discrepancies and taken action.”

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said they had been calling for an investigation. ActionSA councillor Alan Beesley said there was no doubt that there were criminal syndicates that were benefiting.

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the mayor and the City manager must explain what they are doing to end this.

The Mercury