ANCYL: Guns are ready for media
Nelspruit - The ANC Youth League in Mpumalanga has sparked controversy with a statement in which it threatens certain members of the media.
The provincial secretary of the league, Isaac Mahlangu, sent a statement containing threats to City Press newspaper on Monday, which he copied to other news editors on Tuesday.
"Our machine guns are ready if there is any deviation: You better not register an address in the graveyard sooner than your Handler [God] anticipated (sic)," reads the statement.
It was sent in response to two articles published in City Press on Sunday, which alleged that ANCYL deputy secretary-general, Steven Ngubeni, of awarding tenders to friends in Delmas, where he had been employed as municipal manager until last year.
Another article said Ngubeni had been involved in a hit-and-run accident in Delmas on New Year's Eve.
'Shame on them'
Ngubeni has been appointed chief executive of the National Youth Development Agency.
"The ANCYL DSG [deputy secretary general] has just been appointed CEO of NYDA, a campaign to dig out his past is already on the table. Shame to those who are behind this campaign!" Mahlangu added in the statement.
When African Eye contacted Mahlangu to clarify the statement, he laughed and stuck to his guns.
"We want to state clearly that we know who went to the papers and who is behind this campaign to destroy our good name.
"We want to give them a warning - the machine gun is hot and ready," he said.
'Stop acting funny'
He would not reveal the names of those accused of talking to the newspaper, only saying they are "campaigners who want to use the media to destroy ANC leaders".
"If they don't stay out of this, they will get what is coming to them. They are inviting us to battle and we are responding to the challenge. They must cease acting snaaks [funny]," Mahlangu said.
The chairperson of media freedom in the SA National Editors' Forum, Thabo Leshilo, condemned the statement.
"Sanef condemns in the strongest of terms the use of these crazy threats.
"It is obvious that they are threatening to kill people. It will be interesting to see how the police deal with this," Leshilo said.
Professor of journalism at the University of the Witwatersrand Anton Harber said such statements were unacceptable and highly irresponsible.
"This is disgraceful - and very dangerous. It is totally out of order to threaten whistleblowers and media sources in this way.
"They are threatening violence, and the law should prevent this from happening," said Harber.
The police in Mpumalanga declined to discuss the matter because no case has been opened.
"We cannot comment on a case unless a docket has been registered with the police. However, according to normal procedures, if a person receives a threat it constitutes intimidation," said provincial police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Sibongile Nkosi.
NYDA spokesperson Siyabonga Magadla said the youth empowerment agency had "nothing to do" with the youth league.