‘Vigilante’ leader’s party aims to expand to Gauteng

2014-02-19 11:17

The leader of the Bushbuckridge Residents’ Association (BRA) has been released from jail three months after he was convicted of charges linked to vigilantism – and his party now wants to expand to Gauteng.

However, BRA president Delta Mokoena is not off the hook as he still has to appeal his conviction on two separate charges.

Mokoena was convicted twice last year and sentenced, firstly, to three years in jail for intimidation and, secondly, to two years for accusing a resident of practising witchcraft and for arson.

He was granted leave to appeal his three-year sentence and given R10 000 bail last year.

But in the second case, the Bushbuckridge Magistrates’ Court granted Mokoena leave to appeal but refused him bail.

BRA lawyers had to take the matter to the Northern Gauteng High Court where he was granted R10 000 bail.

BRA secretary Cleopus Maunye said Mokoena’s legal team had been instructed to petition the court on his conviction, which they felt was politically motivated.

Maunye said: “He was charged for intimidation and accusing someone of being a witch, but when he was convicted, the courts dealt with the matter as if BRA as an organisation had a problem.”

He said that in the past few weeks, police had also tried to reopen a 1987 docket against a few BRA officials, but stopped after their lawyers’ intervention.

“These are the things that make us believe these charges are politically motivated,” said Maunye.

Mokoena was convicted on November 7 for accusing Ranson Mashile (66) of practising witchcraft.

Mokoena called a community meeting in August 2012 in Ga-Boelang outside Bushbuckridge where it was concluded that Mashile had bewitched his close friend and killed him.

The mob then went to set Mashile’s house alight. Mashile has since been homeless and is sleeping in the Acornhoek police station.

In the intimidation case, Mokoena was convicted on November 5 for threatening to invite Ga-Boelang community members to torch 49-year-old Aaron Zitha’s home if he did not voluntarily leave Ga-Boelang village near Bushbuckridge because his 18-year-old son was a thief.

Since BRA was formed in 2011, residents in the Bushbuckridge area have accused its members of vigilantism – calling community meetings that take decisions to evict residents accused of witchcraft and Satanism, closing down schools and assaulting people accused of crime.

Read: ‘Reign of terror’: councillor gets 3 years

More than 20 families have allegedly been displaced by BRA’s activities.

ANC members have also alleged being assaulted by BRA members when they campaign in the area.

Mokoena had kidnapping charges withdrawn against him in January because of insufficient evidence. But he still has to answer allegations of closing down Tladishi High School in Buffelshoek near Bushbuckridge after accusing the school principal’s wife of being a Satanist.

Maunye said now that Mokoena had been released, the Mpumalanga-based organisation would kickstart its election campaign and try to expand to Gauteng.

“We’re planning to overtake the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Mpumalanga and get seats in the provincial legislature. We have some members from Bushbuckridge who are based in Gauteng and that is where we also aim to expand,” he said.

BRA was formed by disgruntled ANC members before the 2011 local government elections.

It took part in the elections and won seven seats in the Bushbuckridge municipality.

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