SA edging closer to 'mafia state' as Cloete Murray and son assassinated
SA edging closer to 'mafia state' as Cloete Murray and son assassinated. Photo: Carte Blanche screenshot

South Africans have been left shocked – and yet not shocked – by the brutal assassinations this weekend of criminal investigators Cloete Murray and his son Thomas (28), with the words ‘mafia state’ being bandied about since the two men were shot on the N1 at New Road, Midrand in Gauteng on Saturday. Thomas died immediately and Cloete passed away in hospital.

Adam Habib, Director of SOAS University of London, tweeted:

“This is truly tragic. SA has become a mafia state and one at war with its best citizens. Cry, my beloved country. I never thought I would feel these words in a post apartheid era. How we have fallen?”

Former Western Cape premiere Helen Zille said “contemplating the assassination of Cloete Murray and his son Thomas, who were getting to the root of the BOSASA corruption, (following so many other fatal hits or attempted hits) brings home what it means to live in a Mafia State.”

Murray was a court-appointed liquidator for Bosasa, which was implicated in widespread corruption during testimony at the Zondo Commission. He was also involved in the insolvency proceedings of a variety of other high-profile arms of state affected by state capture.

“His assassination serves as a blow to the fight against corruption and may act as a deterrent to curators and liquidators involved in serious corruption matters,” DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said in a statement on Monday.

“This tragic murder joins a long list of both attempted and fatal hits on persons involved in uncovering and eradicating corruption in our state.”

Previous attempted and fatal hits on those uncovering corruption in South Africa include:

  • In 2021, Babita Deokaran, a financial manager who flagged fraudulent payments out of Tembisa Hospital was gunned down after dropping her daughter off at school.
  • Andre de Ruyter survived a cyanide poisoning attempt as he got closer to unveiling the widespread corruption in Eskom’s supply networks.
  • Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, the Vice-Chancellor of Fort Hare University, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt which killed his bodyguard in January 2023, while he attempted to close the taps on procurement corruption.

Malatsi said:

“The inability of the ANC government to effectively tackle corruption and crime within its ranks is increasingly turning our nation into a mafia state, where the government and many of its officials are tied with organized crime. It has become increasingly apparent that high-level politicians, often occupying the highest offices in the land are potentially linked to insidious criminal networks.

“The state is increasingly seen as a mechanism to access resources and wealth through looting and extensive patronage networks. When these networks are exposed, violent and criminal pushback is often experienced.”

Malatsi points out that unless the state deals more effectively with assassination attempts, fewer South Africans are going to be willing to risk their lives to fight corruption.

“The DA has previously revealed that the cost of protecting one ‘VIP’’ in South Africa was approximately R8 million for the 2021/22 financial year. The DA calls on this funding to be slashed, and greater protection instead provided to whistleblowers, corruption fighters and front-line policing. By better protecting those who expose and investigate corruption, South Africa will be better positioned to tackle the mafia state head on.

“We call on President Ramaphosa to tackle the problem of assassinations, and the infiltration of gangsters into the SAPS with the urgency it requires and protect those who stand up against corruption,” said Malatsi.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of Build One South Africa, says: “We desperately need a clean government or South Africa will become a combination of Zimbabwe and Mexico.”

WATCH excerpts from Cloete Murray’s interview with Carte Blanche in April 2022 (If you’re abroad in most countries, don’t miss another episode of Carte Blanche – subscribe to Showmax International):