Activist assaulted during march

2016-05-19 06:00
BATTERED:  A bleeding Mncedisi Twalo, leader of Abemi is taken to hospital after an alleged assault by people said to be close to the deputy minister.

BATTERED: A bleeding Mncedisi Twalo, leader of Abemi is taken to hospital after an alleged assault by people said to be close to the deputy minister.

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Abemi Grassroots Movement leader Mncedisi Twalo was roughed up last Wednesday as the march he was leading fell into disarray after being assaulted, allegedly by friends of deputy minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Mcebisi Skwatsha.

According to Twalo, the assault took place as they marched to the house to plead with Skwatsha to allow for the funeral of one of the late previous owners of the house to be held there.

The house, in NY131 number 24 in Gugulethu, used to belong to Makhaya and Matilda Tsotsobe and their children until they defaulted on bond payments and it was sold by the bank.

Skwatsha bought the house from the bank in 2011. Matilda,69, who was divorced from her husband, passed away about two Saturdays ago and was buried last Sunday.

According to Twalo, his organisation had written a request a to Skwatsha asking for the customary night vigils and subsequent funeral to be held at the house.

Skwatsha said, after consultations with his family and the street committee, it was decided to reject the request, based on the ritualistic demands that this would require.

“We are not related to the Tsotsobes, and this would have put a heavy burden on us in terms of our customs,” said Skwatsha.

Abemi then decided to lead a march to the house.

But on arrival they were met by throngs of people, including neighbours and others said to be friends of Skwatsha. Arguments and counter arguments ensued, which ultimately led to chaos.

Then Twalo was allegedly assaulted.

Nokwanda Tsotsobe, a grand-daughter, said they had approached Abemi to seek intervention on their behalf as they did not have a place from where they could hold the vigil and bury their grand-mother.

“We came in peace(on the day of the march). We wanted negotiations as Africans. We wanted to urge Mr Skwatsha to have mercy on us and allow us to bury our grandmother where she raised,” she said.

Nokwanda also said: “Ndicela uxolo if lento siyenzayo ivakele rongo.”

Twalo was adamant that they “had marched to the Skwatsha house to mediate between him and the Tsotsobe family.”

He added that the Tsotsobes had lived in the house for over 40 years and that they had previously buried two of their late sons there.

“So there is a sentimental attachment to that family when it comes to that house. Most of the children and grand-children were born there,” he alluded.

The Tsotsobe family has lost a relative. They are homeless, he said.

“Instead we were met with the ruthless brutality of the worst order,”

However, Skwatsha revealed that this was not the first time that Twalo had led a march to his house.

“They had marched on previous occasions, and were informed that I was the rightful owner of the property. Documents were shown to prove this. But things reached boiling point on April 27,” he said.

Skwatsha said this time Twalo arrived with his followers and gave him “instructions for the programme of the late Matilda”

“Naturally, this was refused. How does one allow a burial of a non-relative to take place at one’s property.”

A resident who lives down the street said: “It is uncalled for Abemi to expect Skwatsha to hand over the keys as if the house is theirs, irrespective of what happened. The fact of the matter is that the house was repossessed and sold to another client, that means it is not your house,”.

“What happened here today is regrettable but it can be attributed to poor leadership and vision from Abemi.” he said, on condition of anonymity.

However, Thuthula Nqila said the brutality meted by the Skwatsha’s friends was horrific.

“To drag a fellow African like a dog and kick and stamp on him as if he had committed treason is too painful.

Matilda Tsotsobe was eventually buried at a relative’s house in NY56, Gugulethu.

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