/ 28 June 2021

ANC council candidate stabbed to death outside party meeting

SA's police force has yet to win the battle against crime.

An ANC candidate has been stabbed to death after the party’s community meetings, making it the first political killing related to the selection of councillors in the Eastern Cape this year. 

This comes after the Eastern Cape secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi told the Mail & Guardian that the provincial leadership was looking at boosting security in branch general meetings

Reports of violence have continued to plague the ANC ahead of the local government elections, at a time when many of its branches are charged with selection of council candidates. 

In a media statement on Monday, Ngcukayitobi said the provincial leaders were deeply worried that political differences are being resolved through brutal killings and not through established congress-movement traditions of political persuasion and robust engagement.

“This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.  We would like to express shock and disgust at the latest killing. Our movement cannot harbour thugs and criminals … they must be exposed and not be part of our organisation,” Ngcukayitobi said. “Furthermore, we appeal to anyone that might have information around this barbaric deed to approach the police and provide the necessary information.”

It is alleged that Thembekile Somngwangwa, who was one of the candidates nominated for council at ward 30, Ingquza Hill in the OR Tambo region was stabbed outside a community hall shortly after a branch general meeting had been postponed. 

Ngcukayitobi said the ANC calls on law-enforcement agencies to ensure all those who are responsible for this “callous crime are brought to book and sentenced to longtime imprisonment”.

One person has been arrested so far. 

Meanwhile, another branch meeting in ward 30 in Ga-Rankuwa in Gauteng devolved into chaos this weekend after members disagreed on candidates. 

A video circulating on social media shows ANC members pushing each other. 

In May, the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) instructed branches to nominate a maximum of six candidates for the proportional representation candidate lists to add capacity to drive development and represent people from their areas.

The M&G previously reported that communities would also be given an opportunity to scrutinise and amend the list of candidates. 

“The first 10% of the required list should be kept as is, in terms of the nominations received, unless a nominee is excluded for reasons of conduct or track record … Once the municipal draft lists are drawn up, the district list for directly elected councillors should be drawn up from good candidates who could not be accommodated in the local council list,” the document stated.

Five men with a variety of unlicensed firearms were arrested by police at Isipingo, south of Durban, allegedly while on their way to attack an ANC branch general meeting at Mkhambathini, near Pietermaritzburg, two weeks ago. 

The ANC’s Harry Gwala region, which includes Mkhambathini, Richmond, Pietermaritzburg and Howick, was particularly badly hit by killings of ANC leaders at branch level during the ANC candidate selection process ahead of the 2016 local government elections.

The political killings in Harry Gwala and other ANC regions claimed 19 lives in less than a year and sparked the appointment of the Moerane commission into political violence in the province in 2017, at which the causes of the spike in pre-election violence were ventilated.

The Moerane report warned that the underlying causes of the killings, which were similar to incidents in other provinces, were “potentially present in all provinces”.

There has been growing concern in the party that the violence may escalate as the process to select candidates gains momentum and that the wave of deadly attacks that marred the process in KwaZulu-Natal in 2015 and 2016 may be replicated in other parts of the country.

Last week, the ANC reported that two people were shot, and 16 others injured during meetings in Limpopo’s Waterberg region. This compelled the ANC in Waterberg to call off all its activities in the Lephalale subregion until security is stabilised.

Waterberg regional spokesperson Matome Taueatsoala described the incident as resembling the storyline of a Hollywood movie, saying that they received reports that the attackers followed their victims to the Witpoort Hospital, where nurses and doctors had to run “for dear life”.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa raised concern about violence at ANC meetings, saying that the party should strive to root out the negative tendencies in the movement of “thugs” being rented to disrupt meetings, intimidate and kill members of the ANC. 

“Clearly, we still have members with an abiding sense of entitlement. When their desires cannot be realised, everything should stop. Part of renewal is to disallow such people in the ranks of the movement. The prestige of the ANC should not be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency,” he said.