/ 25 May 2024

FROM THE ARCHIVES | Elections 2014: ‘Dad was on the wrong side’

South African Elections
Speaking at the national election results centre on Tuesday evening, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said there had been arrests in Mpumalanga related to the elections, with two people detained for interfering with IEC material. File photo

Tambo Sealanyane’s father was stoned to death six weeks before democracy dawned. In the violence of early 1994, Sello Sealanyane, a National Party member, was considered to be “on the wrong side”. 

Tumahole in the Free State remains ANC country. Or more specifically, Ace Magashule country. This is the hometown of the province’s premier, and where he voted this week. Residents tell stories of his generosity, the time he stopped them on a street corner and gave them money or paid their school fees. But his provincial administration is mired in controversy – from the R40 million provincial website corruption claims to the Vrede dairy farm scandal. 

Tambo has a scar on his left hip, which he earned when a family friend hurled the child as far as she could from the scene of his father’s stoning.

A Beeld report at the time quoted NP district leaders who blamed the ANC for Sello’s death. The ANC denied it and Tambo doesn’t know who is responsible.

He learned that his father was an NP member when he saw the newspaper clipping. His grandmother harbours fears that Tambo will be victimised because of who his father was.

The scene of the crime is the only corrugated-iron shack in Phiri Street that remains exactly as it was in 1994 but the rest of the street is lined with state-subsidised houses. 

Tambo has tried to secure government housing for his grandparents. He went to court to have the title deed changed to reflect his name instead of his father’s. He has visited the municipality so many times attempting to put them on the housing list that he has lost count.

The inescapable truth is that Sello was “on the wrong side”, and everybody knows that Tambo is his son.

“I remember the whole thing: there were 10 guys. My dad was on the couch. It was a Sunday afternoon. They came in and carried him outside. They just kept throwing stones and throwing … “

His lips quiver while telling his story. Two streets away, a peaceful election is taking place. “It makes me think maybe my dad didn’t die for nothing.”