Caught in a bloody political fight

2015-01-26 10:26

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I had only heard about the blood-curdling nature of ANC and IFP members’ fights before our democracy in 1994.

I had seen shocking footage of black-on-black massacres on TV but had never physically been there to witness it when it happened.

That is because I grew up Daggakraal – a very peaceful rural village in the southern part of Mpumalanga, not in a volatile township near Joburg or Durban.

People of my age who were living in the affected townships – though they were barely teenagers at the height of the violence – can claim to have seen it all: bleeding men and women and corpses strewn all over.

I had not witnessed such violence in the 37 years I have lived. Thank God I was not deployed to Marikana in 2012.

However, yesterday, all of this changed.

I found myself trapped in a community hall at KaNyamazane township outside Mbombela in Mpumalanga as ANC and SACP members bayed for each others’ blood.

Blood outside a community hall at KaNyamazane township in Mbombela. Picture: Sizwe sama Yende/City Press

Bricks, stones and a few bullets flew around amid the hurling of expletives about Premier David Mabuza and his predecessor, Mathews Phosa, who was also the ANC’s national treasurer-general.

People bludgeoned each other with pickaxe handles. Blood spilled. I had drops on my arm.

A bleeding SACP member outside the KaNyamazane hall after ANC and SACP members fought with guns, bricks, stones and pickaxe handles. Picture: Sizwe sama Yende/City Press

A colleague from African Eye News Service, Mandla Khoza, and I ran in circles trying to find a way out of the hall.

We lost each other in the mêlée. I was lucky. The hall is adjacent to a clinic and a security guard opened for me to walk to safety on the other side of the razor fence.

But an SACP and ANC supporters’ fight? This was, before Sunday, highly unlikely and unimaginable.

The ANC members wanted to stop the SACP memorial lecture on late Mbombela municipal speaker, Jimmy Mohlala, and SACP stalwart Joe Slovo because the SACP had invited Phosa to speak.

Phosa recently submitted a dossier to Luthuli House that implied that Mabuza could have been an apartheid spy.

The SACP wanted the matter of political killings thrashed out in the lecture. They want it to remain on the agenda of the tripartite alliance and the police.

Mohlala was shot dead in 2009, while fighting corruption regarding the R1.2 billion Mbombela stadium.

The police have failed to crack the case. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is stalling on the Mbombela stadium corruption trial because it cannot decide if the matter should go to the regional or the high court.

We do not really know why Mohlala’s murder is so complicated to solve and why the corruption case is such a hot potato for the NPA.

What I know is that Mohlala’s assassination has divided ANC comrades and also pitted one ANC faction against the SACP.

One ANC faction wants Mohlala’s murder to be forgotten while the other, with the SACP’s backing, wants to get to the bottom of the matter.

The province is on a knife edge. It is a tinderbox. The ANC, the police and the NPA must do something drastic very soon about the taut political situation underpinned by Mohlala’s assassination.

This must happen before we witness another bloody political fight.

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