Councillor shaken by shooting of guards

Bay councillor Xola Sabani at the scene of the shooting.
Bay councillor Xola Sabani at the scene of the shooting.

A NELSON Mandela Bay ward councillor fears for his life after two security guards assigned to protect his family were shot and wounded at his house in Kwazakhele following housing squabbles that began to turn ugly early last year.

The shooting at Ward 16 councillor Xola Sabani’s home in Port Elizabeth follows months of death threats and office closures, with residents at one stage threatening to dump faeces on his office floor if he did not accede to their demands.

The wounded security guards – a woman, 38, who was shot under the breast, and a man, 58, shot in the leg – are in a stable condition at a Port Elizabeth hospital.

Their names and that of the hospital are being withheld for safety reasons.

Sabani, 37, said he was on his way from a meeting at about 8pm on Monday when he received a call from his secretary, Khuselwa Ngxenge, that sent shivers down his spine.

“She said I should rush home as something had happened,” the still shaken councillor said.

“When I got home there were ambulances and police cars, with a lot of bystanders. I was really scared, thinking that something had happened to my family.

“I was very shocked to see the two security guards lying in a pool of blood in our garage.”

Sabani said while he was relieved that his family was unharmed, he was saddened by the incident.

He said he was now scared to attend public participation meetings in the same ward, but had to do so.

Sabani said he had been receiving death threats since October, allegedly from residents upset over the allocation of houses in the area. As a result, the municipality had arranged security guards for his family.

“The problem started with a housing project in Qaqawuli informal settlement and MK Silvertown early last year when they were given one layout plan,” he said.

“When we were about to start with the repositioning of housing sites, the residents of Qaqawuli pulled out as they demanded that housing sites should also be allocated for their kids.

“We explained that municipal policies do not allow us to build for beneficiaries and their kids.

“They [Qaqawuli residents] then decided to protest and closed my office for over a month from October.

“We continued with the project for MK Silvertown and that is when the residents of Qaqawuli chased away the workers on site.

“I then received a threatening letter in the first week of December from the Qaqawuli residents in which they asked if I wanted to see bloodshed in both these informal settlements or whether I wanted to die.

“I took the letter to the council and the police,” Sabani said.

“In the first week of December, the council decided to deploy security at my home for our own safety.”

Qaqawuli residents complained last year that no progress had been made in their area while building had already started in Silvertown, with basics like water and electricity installed.

Sabani said the shooting was of grave concern because he was a community leader elected by the very same people.

“There are public meetings that I have to attend but I am scared because I don’t know what will happen there,” he said. “However, part of my job as a leader is to face challenges.

“I can’t leave my home because I was born and bred here and . . . even if I leave, they will follow me wherever I go if they really are after me.

“My main worry is the safety of my family because I am not here every day or every hour.”

Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said: “We are shocked … and condemn the shooting in the strongest possible terms. This is now a police matter.”

Police spokesman Constable Mncedi Mbombo said police were investigating two cases of attempted murder.

“The suspects managed to escape with two shotguns from the security guards,” he said.

In August, ward councillor Buyisile Mkavu, who chaired the council’s human settlements committee, was shot dead in his car in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage.

– Yoliswa Sobuwa

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