South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) deputy president Skhumbuzo Mpanza wants the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to investigate an attempt to arrest him and the organisation’s president Richard Mdakane on the eve of its elective conference in Johannesburg last weekend.
The two Sanco leaders, who had been preparing to stand for election at the civic movement’s national conference, were involved in a stand-off with police from Durban who had arrived in Alexandra, Johannesburg, more than 500km away, to arrest them.
But the plainclothes officers left after Sanco members refused to allow them to arrest the two, making an arrangement for Mdakane and Mpanza to appear in court in Durban on Monday on charges relating to the issuing of false invoices on behalf of Sanco and defrauding the organisation of R1.1-million.
The charges were laid by suspended Sanco Eastern Cape leader Zukile Luyenge, a member of a rival faction in the organisation who had earlier instituted, and withdrawn, a high court action against the Sanco national leadership over alleged financial mismanagement and violations of its constitution.
Mpanza and Mdakane appeared in court on Monday and were released on bail of R15 000 each and will appear in court again on March 29.
The conference went ahead, and Mdakane and Mpanza were re-elected, despite members of a rival faction appointing their leaders as an interim task team to take over the organisation.
Mpanza, who was elected as deputy president at the conference, said he believed the move to arrest them was aimed at collapsing the conference. “We will be reporting this matter to Ipid as it appears that state resources were being abused in a bid to humiliate us and collapse the conference. We had previously made ourselves available to the investigating officer in this case, which was opened months ago. There was no need to turn up, Hollywood-style, and try and arrest leaders of the organisation.
“We are concerned that state resources are being used by individuals to fight their political battles and further their political ambitions.”
Sanco spokesperson Zet Luzipho said the “coincidence may remain an issue” but “we are hoping for a speedy process in which people will be given an opportunity to answer for themselves. We should allow the court to make its judgment.”
The battle in Sanco between the Mpanza/Mdakane faction and a group led by former treasurer Roy Moodley has brought the organisation to its knees.
The head office has been closed for more than a year while supporters of the two groups have fought it out in the provinces, suspending each other and setting up parallel structures.
Luzipho said they did not recognise the interim task team as its members had not participated in the conference as delegates.
He said, once the newly elected national executive committee had sat, they would focus on Sanco’s finances and on rebuilding the organisation. “We need to take control of the finances and ensure that all money allocated to Sanco is made available to Sanco.”
Luzipho said Moodley had not handed over the organisation’s books to the new treasurer, David Mkhwanazi.
Richard Mkhungo, a member of the interim task team, said they were “running Sanco until a conference will be held in three weeks’ time”.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said : “We will not be drawn into any speculation in the media space regarding these arrests.’’