Corruption fighter not deterred by murder

2014-07-06 15:00

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Civic leader Percy Nketsi says his name is on a hit list just below that of Mogalakwena Residents’ Association (MRA) leader Piet Pale, who was gunned down a week ago. But he says he is “ready to die”.

Pale was shot three times by unknown gunmen while in his car in Mahwelereng township outside Mokopane, Limpopo, last Saturday night.

Pale led the fight against corruption in his neighbourhood as well as a court challenge to the provincial government’s decision to place Mogalakwena under administration.

Mogalakwena municipality hit the headlines after forensic auditors found that former mayor Tlhalefi Mashamaite hired 30 personal bodyguards costing more than R1?million of council money.

This week, news emerged of an alleged hit list containing the names of residents and officials opposed to corruption in the municipality.

Pale’s name was believed to have been on the hit list, as was that of municipal manager William Kekana, said municipal spokesperson Malesela Selokela.

Last year, Mayor Tlhalefi Mashamaite was removed by ANC councillors, voting with the opposition. The ANC councillors were briefly suspended by the party but have appealed.

Nketsi says he believes ANC leaders in Limpopo, whom he described as “black wolves” who enrich themselves with municipal funds, orchestrated Pale’s murder.

He also blamed the ANC leadership for failing to act on Mogalakwena’s troubles while “acting swiftly” in other municipalities recently.

“If the ANC continues to drag its feet, we’re ready as residents to contest in the coming local government elections, and confident we will emerge victorious. All we want now is for the ANC to be impartial on Mogalakwena and act accordingly,” he said.

Nketsi, a local youth leader who worked closely with Pale, asked what ANC Limpopo chairperson Premier Stan Mathabatha “really meant” at an ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) lekgotla last month when he said: “The PEC must deal with the [Mogalakwena] matter once and for all.”

“I asked the same question publicly at Pale’s memorial service because since the premier said this, we have not seen any action other than Pale’s death,” he said.

Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, responded: “The premier meant what he said – that the matter needs to be dealt with once and for all. It is being addressed. There should be action soon.”

Nketsi is now convinced his life is in danger.

Former DA councillor and now MP Beyers Smit said his party also received information that the name of one of its councillors in Mogalakwena was also on the hit list.

Limpopo ANC spokesperson Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said she could not comment on allegations about faceless party leaders enriching themselves but she denied the party was dragging its feet in Mogalakwena.

“People are confusing us with government but, as the ANC in the province, we’ve been acting, and have removed and suspended councillors who defied party orders in that municipality. What more can we do?”

She said government had been prevented from putting Mogalakwena under administration, “and now people just want to blame us for nothing”.

Police spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto said they were yet to be officially informed of the alleged hit list. “This murder is a priority case and an experienced team of investigators is working on it. No arrest has been made yet,” said Otto.

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