Photographer's office petrol-bombed in Mpumalanga

2015-04-01 16:35

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Mbombela - Iconic photographer Sam Nzima has been forced into resigning from his position as a tribal councillor in Mpumalanga after his office was petrol-bombed, in an apparent deliberate intimidation act against him.

Sam, 80, was appointed councillor at the Njongilanga Tribal Authority in Nkwinyamahembe village near Bushbuckridge in 2013. His appointment was met with mixed reactions from community members, some feeling he was not the rightful person to play a councillor role.

"People burnt my office on the night of March 26 and police came to extinguish the fire, but it did not end there. The next day they threw a petrol bomb which forced police to come again. This is really bad. I have been forced to resign along with my brother Phillip Nzima," Sam told a News24 correspondent.

This week, in the early hours of Wednesday, Sam's nephew Andrea Nzima, 52, also became a victim attackers burned down his family storeroom.

Personal attacks

"I believe this issue has become personal. Last week they burned my uncle's office and assets, today it's our family storeroom. We lost five gas bottles, water pipes, petrol tanks, steel pipes and my small library to the fire," said Andrea.

Sam said what is happening is almost similar to what happened during apartheid when he took the photo of Hector Pietersen.

"There is no difference between the old time when I was a photographer in 1976 and now because they were throwing petrol bombs to fight us. I know the two are different because apartheid affected all South Africans and this is only affecting my family and community," said Sam.

He said before the attacks, some community members marched to the tribal office and demanded that six names be removed from the list of councillors.

'Very hurt'

Njongilanga Tribal Authority acting chief Phara Khoza said they accepted Sam and Phillip's resignations due to the situation.

"I am very hurt. We called them to the royal family after they told us that they are resigning and their children also wrote a letter saying why they want the councillors to resign. We accepted the letters because of the situation and if was not for that, we would not accept any resignation," said Khoza.

A member of the concerned group that demanded the removal of the six councillors, Sam Khoza, said they will not stop until all six have resigned.

"We have received the two's resignation letters and the tribal authority's acceptance of their resignation. We are happy that they have resigned, however, we have to set the record straight that we don’t want two individuals to resign but the entire six-member council," said Sam Khoza.

He said the council has been firing headmen since they took over.

"This is abuse and we will not back down until the other councillors are removed," he said.

Provincial police spokesperson Gerald Sedibe confirmed that a case of arson was opened at Calcutta police station in Mkhuhlu.

"The police are investigating the matter. No one has been arrested yet," said Sedibe.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  media  |  crime
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