Gun-wielding ANC man in Bekkersdal a former councillor

2014-03-16 14:01

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A man pictured in Bekkersdal wearing an ANC bib and brandishing a gun is a local ANC leader who is employed by the Westonaria municipality.

He used to be a councillor.

The ANC was left red-faced after daily newspapers published a photograph of the man and of a woman, believed to be a party bodyguard, wielding guns while residents of Bekkersdal burnt tyres and threw stones to stop them from entering the township on Thursday.

The party has tried to distance itself from the armed man but City Press has since established that Nelson Mdayi is a local ANC leader who is employed in the speaker’s office in the municipality and is a former ANC councillor.

The party’s leadership says its intensive programme to reach every household in Gauteng remains in place despite a major embarrassment after their members of the legislature were chased out of Bekkersdal.

An ANC volunteer told City Press they were aware before going into Bekkersdal that residents planned to chase them away.

But he said that after some discussion, it was decided that the ANC should not let Bekkersdal become a no-go area and that if they retreated, they would be allowing the media to go to town about how the ANC was forced out of the township.

Among the leaders there were chief whip Brian Hlongwa and economic development MEC Eric Xayiya.

Spokesperson Nkenke Kekana told City Press: “If it is proven that this is our member, we will obviously have to take action. It does not matter what the circumstances were, the fact of the matter is that you cannot carry guns to an election campaign. It is just not acceptable.”

When told by City Press who Mdayi was, Kekana said he was waiting for a report from the party’s West Rand leadership.

Attempts by City Press to contact Mdayi were unsuccessful.

The party said a bodyguard wielding a gun had intervened after a mob threatened to burn down a shack in which one of their members had sought refuge.

The ANC in Gauteng has asked its volunteers to double their efforts in townships after its own internal polls showed it could obtain only 45% of electoral support in the country’s economic hub.

Kekana said the Bekkersdal situation was complicated because residents were alleging corruption against the municipality and he urged the community to take their information to an investigating unit that had been started by the Auditor-General’s office.

A spokesperson for the aggrieved group in Bekkersdal, Thabang Wesi, said he did not “foresee” voting taking place on election day.

“If the ANC wants to force us to vote for them, it won’t happen.”

Wesi said Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane had insulted the community by saying she did not want their “dirty votes”, so residents got angry each time they heard she was going to come to Bekkersdal.

“What more do they want from us if they don’t want our dirty votes?” asked Wesi. He said the ANC was provocative because its leaders wanted to show they could go to Bekkersdal, no matter what.

“These are community issues, not political issues. But the way the ANC provincial leaders are acting could result in ANC members inside the township engaging in violence against the community. But we are not fighting the ANC. We are fighting the system.”

Kekana said it was remarkable that across the province, it was only the ANC that was conducting door-to-door campaigns.

“No other political party is visible.”

An ANC volunteer told City Press that besides daily campaigning, municipalities had also been asked to look at “quick wins”, which entailed either creating short-term jobs or placing people on indigent lists so that they pay less for services, which could turn the mood in the

ANC’s favour as the election date approaches.

Frustration boils over

‘We will also protest until Jesus comes’

Tebogo Molebatse struggles to stand still.

The 26-year-old fiddles with his red EFF beret, making sure it sits at just the right angle on his head.

Anger flashes across his scarred face when he’s asked why he’s been involved in violent protests in Bekkersdal on Joburg’s west rand.

“What do you think, my sister?

“I am young and unemployed. I sit around all day doing nothing because there are no work opportunities in this place.

“You can see there is no life this place. It’s dirty, sewage is flowing all over the place and there are no recreational facilities.

“I know some people think that we protest just for the fun of it, but it is not true.

We are tired of poor service delivery in this area, rampant corruption and nepotism that takes place in Westonaria local municipality.

“Most of us went to school but we are unemployed because the Westonaria municipality has become a family business.

If you are not an ANC card carrying member or are not related to anybody who works for the municipality you can never get job.

“We have raised this issue with our so-called councillor to no avail. Each time the ANC makes promises to do something about it but nothing ever happens.

“We are sick and tired of empty promises from the ANC. We want change now. If they continue to ignore our grievance, Bekkersdal will go up in flames.

“As the ANC always says they will rule until Jesus comes, we will also protest until Jesus comes. And we will not end. We will go to the municipal offices if need be to show them how serious we are.”

Despite the beret, he insists he’s not a member of the party.

“My sister, I am not an EFF (member); neither am I an ANC member. I am just a fed up resident of Bekkersdal who wants to see change taking place in my community, as in yesterday.

“We have lived this dump for too long while holding on to the empty promises of the ANC. It’s time we forced them to bring change to the people of Bekkersdal.” – Zinhle Mapumulo

 

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