Zuma reveals 'death plot'

2011-10-17 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has disclosed there was a plot to assassinate him when he was deputy president, but said the plot was thwarted by the loyalty of some of his bodyguards who refused to be coerced.

Zuma said this in Umbumbulu, south of Durban, when addressing hundreds of mourners on Saturday at the funeral of Captain Patrick “Sho” Maphumulo, who he said was one of those bodyguards who refused to be coerced by the plotters.

Maphumulo died last Sunday after apparently succumbing to malaria, which he apparently contracted on a trip to witness the independence of South Sudan.

Zuma described Maphumulo as a disciplined and respected former Mkhonto weSizwe cadre who served in the presidential guard during the terms for all South Africa’s democratically elected presidents.

He said Maphumulo understood politics, but knew how to separate politics from his duty as a policeman.

Speaking in isiZulu, Zuma said that as deputy president he faced difficult times when everyone who was expected to be trustworthy turned against him.

“Mashimane [Maphumulo’s clan name] was part of the VIP guards assigned to the deputy president. At the time the plotters wanted some information on who I was talking to and associating with.

“He and some in the bodyguards team showed deep knowledge of politics. They refused to give information about my movements when their superiors wanted it.

“For refusing to be coerced they were ostracised by their seniors by being refused some privileges enjoyed by their colleagues, but they did not budge.

“At some stage it was inquired as to how many firearms there were in my guards team as they intended attacking and wiping out all the guards and the deputy [president].”

Zuma said that among his team of protectors, known as the “Echo Group”, were Major-General Mxolisi Dladla, Boy Ngcobo, Chris Hadebe, Yange Sithebe, Velaphi Ndlovu, Mogomotsi Motsamayi, Pride Delange, Wandile Ndilinga, Wanele Nogqulu, Zane Zuma and Thabani Athula.

He said they were committed and could not be bought as they understood that South Africa “needed to be properly governed”.

At the time of going to print Zuma’s spokesperson, Zanele Mngadi, said she had not located the president to clarify who the assassination plotters were or what their motive was.

Also addressing the funeral, a veteran ANC leader in the Umbumbulu area and former eThekwini South mayor, Eden Mngadi, described Maphumulo as a freedom fighter. He accused certain ANC leaders in eThekwini of having turned to fighting for tenders.

Mngadi appealed to Zuma and his government to help the families and beneficiaries of what he called freedom martyrs suffering today because they have lost their breadwinners to political violence during the struggle against apartheid.

He criticised youth leaders “who are hooligans and keep on insulting older people and the ANC leadership”, saying that the time will come when the ANC and MK cadres will start “praying” for them to vanish “as we used to do in the past”.

• skhumbuzo.miya@witness.co.za

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