THE killing of a Democratic Alliance member in Crossroads, Cape Town, this week after the disruption of an open-air community gathering has sparked a furious exchange of insults and accusations between the DA and its bitter rival in the Western Cape, the African National Congress.
Kenneth Dayi (73) was killed by a bullet that DA supporters claim came from the gun of an ANC councillor, Depouche Elese, whom they accused of being a “well-known and feared warlord”.
A meeting in the Boystown informal settlement had been called to discuss the development and housing plan for the area, regarded as a flashpoint between the ANC and the DA. Elese is said to have “monopolised the platform, not allowing any non-ANC supporters to speak”.
Mlungisi Noludwe, leader of a local organisation called Intathonxaxheba ka Wonke wonke (literally translated, “Everyone’s participation”), who alleged the bullet had been intended for him, said the meeting degenerated into chaos when community members used a loudhailer to demand their right to speak. “The people of Crossroads have lost confidence in the ANC, and the ANC finds it hard to accept that,” he said.
DA deputy chairperson Helen Zille released a statement this week saying the shooting of Dayi was “the latest in a series of attacks that are increasing in frequency and severity”. She charged that the ANC was “spearheading a campaign of violent intimidation against its political opponents in Xhosa-speaking areas in an attempt to crush growing opposition to its increasingly authoritarian rule”.
The DA statement also alleged “collusion between the ANC and elements in the South African Police Service”. This has included “the repeated arrest of DA activists on spurious and frivolous charges, often before a long weekend, so they have to spend five days in jail before the bail application”. In contrast, Zille says, serious and substantiated charges against ANC public bearers are seldom followed up, and “often withdrawn without reasons being given”.
This campaign, according to the DA, has included destruction of people’s homes and property, serious damage to DA meeting venues and the holding of “kangaroo courts to banish DA members from their communities unless they join the ANC”.
The ANC has hotly denied the allegations in a statement issued this week, rejecting “with utter contempt the inflammatory accusations by Helen Zille. In fact some of the allegations are of such a nature that we will consult our lawyers on whether they do not constitute defamation against the organisation and its leaders.”
ANC provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha said “every time Zille has entered the political fray, opportunistically sneaking into the townships, she was quick to exploit concerns and grievances in our communities. This is part of the DA’s narrow-minded strategy to gain votes.
“Zille, working together with disgruntled and destructive elements in the communities, whips up emotions of poor people and then retreats to her ivory towers, not worried about the consequences of leaving behind a bitter and divided community.”
On Thursday, DA leader Tony Leon visited the bereaved family of Kenneth Dayi, where Leon asked why, “despite eyewitness accounts and sworn affidavits, Elese has not been arrested”.