Interdict in war of words

2009-07-03 00:00

UMVOTI (Greytown) ANC councillor Philani Mavundla was granted an urgent interim interdict by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Anton van Zyl yesterday to stop Umvoti Mayor Petros Ngubane from making “untrue and defamatory” statements about him.

Ngubane blames him for being behind attacks on IFP councillors in the area, the ANC councillor says.

Mavundla,who is chairman of the ANC for the Inkosi Bhambatha region, claims in court papers that Ngubane has also alleged that he had unlawfully tried to sway the allegiance of the IFP-aligned traditional leaders in the area.

Ngubane must respond by July 15.

Mavundla says the alleged remarks are inflammatory and “irresponsible” at a time when the Greytown area is beset by political tensions between the ANC and IFP.

He describes the region as being “nothing short of a powder keg” in which several people affiliated to both the IFP and ANC have been killed in the past three weeks, including three municipal councillors.

He says in his affidavit that Ngubane’s high profile and role as mayor add weight to his statements in the minds of his supporters, and for that reason the application is extremely urgent.

“Statements such as these made by the respondent [Ngubane] serve only to inflame political tensions and fuel the political violence currently raging in the area,” he said.

Mavundla details numerous murders have that taken place since just before the April 22 general elections, which saw the IFP lose significant support in Umvoti.

Following the same elections national IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, also failed to win re-election as chairman of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders.

Mavundla said the day before the elections for the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders Ngubane allegedly issued a press release accusing him of attempting to “buy” the votes of the amaKhosi in a bid to wrest the leadership from the IFP.

A few days later, on May 25, an IFP councillor, Ntuthuko Ngubane, was shot and killed when his bakkie came under attack. At his funeral on May 31, Ngubane allegedly made a speech in which he said Mavundla tried to lure the slain IFP councillor with his “riches”, and that he “engineered his death” when he realised he would not join the ANC.

Mavundla said not only were these statements “seriously defamatory and untrue”, but they had the potential to incite public violence.

He said his lawyers demanded a withdrawal of the statements and public apology from Ngubane, but the response received was to the effect that this would not happen and that any proceedings arising from the alleged defamatory statements “would be defended”.

Mavundla alleges that since then the situation has got considerably worse, and he claims that Ngubane has repeatedly made similar allegations.

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