Planned axing behind Skwatsha attack?

ANC members in Paarl suspect that the stabbing of Western Cape ANC secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha was directly linked to his plan to suspend the entire Boland leadership of the party.

Skwatsha was stabbed in the neck two weeks ago at an ANC meeting in Worcester. He was discharged from hospital the same day.

A member of the ANC Youth League, Ndiko Tyhawana, was arrested and charged with the incident. Tyhawana and Sicelo Mvunyiswa, also a youth league member, will be brought before a disciplinary committee on June 23 charged with the attempted murder of Skwatsha.

A member of the ANC’s Drakenstein (Paarl) branch told the Mail & Guardian: ‘Skwatsha was going to announce the suspension of the entire Paarl regional executive committee (REC).

‘This information leaked out and two days before Mcebisi was stabbed, a meeting of REC members was held in [the Paarl township of] Mbekweni. We suspect that the attack on Mcebisi was discussed here,” this person said.

The member asked not to be named, saying he feared for his life.

Another ANC member who witnessed the stabbing told the M&G: ‘We know that the guy who stabbed Mcebisi was standing with a group of people including the Paarl REC. After the stabbing he tried to blend in with this group.”

The ANC’s Boland regional executive supports Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool and Western Cape ANC chairperson James Ngculu, Skwatsha’s bitter enemies.

Skwatsha was poised to sack all its members for trying to force out Paarl mayor Charmaine Manuel—said to be his ally—in defiance of the party’s provincial executive.

Central to the controversy is ANC branch leader Dan Kotze, suspended from the organisation five years ago for bringing the party into disrepute by standing against it in an election.

The M&G was told that Kotze was ‘rehabilitated and brought back into the organisation” by Ngculu.

A local party source said the provincial ANC had passed over the opportunity to act against Kotze when it had the opportunity.

Kotze appeared in the Paarl Regional Court this week on charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after he allegedly beat a local white farmer and his wife last year.

He had tried to intervene in the eviction of a farmworker, which a legal source described as ‘perfectly legal”. The farmer, Trevor Ernstzen, suffered brain damage, and he and his wife are understood to have since emigrated.

Kotze also faces disciplinary action at a local school for teaching only 40 days last year.

It is understood that he is among those that Skwatsha was planning to suspend. He is accused of trying to oust the mayor after she refused to make him a member of the Drakenstein mayoral executive council without provincial authorisation.

Interviewed this week, mayor Manuel also described the ‘destructive” role Kotze had played. ‘When he attacked that farmer and his wife, he destroyed race relations here,” she said. ‘Kotze really damaged the role the ANC and the council wanted and could play around land reform and better race relations in Paarl.”

The attack on Skwatsha failed to achieve its alleged aim, as he returned to Worcester four days after the incident and replaced the ANC Boland regional executive with an interim committee. His stated reason was that Boland leaders had defied the decisions and instructions of the ANC’s provincial executive committee.

Kotze could not be reached for comment.

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