No luck trying to join Malema’s posh bushveld party

2011-12-21 00:00

LIKE in a Mafia movie where there is a special back entrance through the restaurant kitchen for those who are connected, we went round the back.

Except this was a plot on the road to Musina, about 10 minutes out of Polokwane. And it was rather dark.

Only the booming kwaito gave away the fact that there was a bash.

It was Monday night, and the last night of the four-day conference of the ANC in Limpopo during which provincial premier Cassel Mathale was re-elected ANC chairperson.

First we tried to enter Meketi, also known as the “farm” or “Cassel’s Lodge”, through the imposing metal gates depicting the Big Five in rich gold, silver and bronze.

But after we mentioned the name of ANC Youth League Limpopo chair Jacob Lebogo, whose permission we had to be there, the friendly guard said the entrance on the side should be used.

It was difficult to tell in the dark, but the walls surrounding the property are about 500 metres long on each side, and a bad narrow gravel road led us to the gap where we drove in to park in an open piece of veld, surrounded by walls on all sides, with a huge diesel tank and pump in the middle.

There were already quite a few cars parked, most of them ordinary, middle-class cars. Presumably the fancy ones were allowed through the shiny gates and onto the paved driveway.

My colleague from Business Day, Sam Mkokeli, whom I dragged along as a partner in crime, parked the car and we walked through a wide opening leading towards the property.

A garden path winding through a few tall trees in a plush lawn took us to a big lapa with a pool and bar area where the music came from. The quality of the sound was so great that it would even move even a wallflower to the dance floor.

To our left was a huge one-storey house, about the size of a fancy guest house. About 20 or 30 young people were already gathered there, dancing and drinking, but they stopped for a while to check us out. Before we could even reach the bar to look for Lebogo he was there. And he was trembling with an embarrassed look on his face.

Very nicely he tried to explain that the “owner” didn’t want journalists there, and that he, Jacob Lebogo, didn’t realise we were journalists when he gave us the okay to be there.

“Who is the owner?” I asked him, but he refused to answer.

Someone had said before that property developer Matome ­Hlabioa, who does a lot of business with the government and who had allegedly given Malema a R1,2 million Range Rover, owned the place.

But it later emerged that Mathale actually uses the house, and even sometimes convenes his cabinet meetings there.

Lebogo again asked us to leave, and we begged. “We’re here in our personal capacity. Surely you’re doing nothing illegal here,” we tried.

We also asked to at least meet the owner, but the barman was dispatched to escort us out of the property and to scold me for taking pictures on my cellphone.

In the process we did catch a glimpse of Malema, in a bright pink linen shirt and white pants, as well as Mathale, in an Italian-cut suit.

There was a group of really pretty women near them, dancing.

Even though both leaders knew us, neither approached us.

Only an hour from midnight, the party was but a baby, but it had huge potential. A line of cars entered as we tried to leave. We had to wait for them before we could exit, our proverbial tails between our legs.

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