Factions in ANC led to death of councillor candidate - Moerane Commission hears

2018-01-23 18:42
ANC councillor Siphosakhe Zulu from Newcastle municipality  at the Moerane Commission. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

ANC councillor Siphosakhe Zulu from Newcastle municipality at the Moerane Commission. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

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Durban – Factions and infighting in the ANC's Chief Albert Luthuli branch in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, is believed to have led to the death of the branch's councillor candidate, the Moerane Commission heard on Tuesday.

Thirty-five-year-old Thembi Mbongo - who went on to win Ward 6 in the Newcastle Municipality during the August 3, 2016 local government elections - was shot dead on July 2, a few weeks before the elections.

Siphosakhe Zulu, Mbongo's fiancé, replaced her as the area's councillor after winning the by-election in November that year.

READ: ANC's internal politics led to killing of Umzimkhulu councillor, Moerane Commission hears

Zulu, 41, told the commission - which is investigating underlying causes of political killings in the province - that he believed that Mbongo's murder was the result of political divisions in their branch.

"There were factions in our branch leading up to the election. Those factions went up as far as the regional structures," he said.

Mbongo was the branch's secretary in 2014 before she was nominated as a councillor candidate in 2015.

Three men were also nominated as candidates in the ward, Zulu said.

"A certain group of people, who supported one of the men, [was] not happy about her nomination," he said.

The top candidate

Zulu said Mbongo was number two on their branch's nomination list.

"After the community interviews were concluded, it was clear that the community wanted her to become the ward's councillor. After a point system was used to score all four candidates, she became the top candidate councillor," said Zulu.

Zulu said on June 16, 2016, they saw a group of about 30 women demonstrating near their home.

"They were saying they don't want her (Mbongo) and they carried placards with her name. They uttered words such as 'someone would die'. Some of the demonstrators were ANC members," he said.

He said they did not pay attention to the demonstration because they thought the group would calm down as time went on.

On the evening of July 2, Mbongo was shot dead.

READ: Sindiso Magaqa's family still in the dark about official cause of death – Moerane Commission hears

"We were watching the news at 19:00 when someone knocked at the door. I went to open the door and a man said they had come to see Thembi. As Thembi used to keep the then councillor's letters at our home, we thought they had come to get one," he said.

"The first man came in and the other man who stood outside the door had a good view of the whole family as we were all seated at the lounge. When he entered, he started shooting at Thembi. He shot her four times and she died at the scene," Zulu explained, adding that their four children witnessed the shooting.

He said he believed that his fiancé's shooting was related to the June 16 demonstrations and to her nomination as the area's candidate councillor.

"As she was shot dead just a few weeks before the elections, the ANC leadership decided that they'll contest the elections using her name. The community also vowed to vote for her," he said.

Zulu said Mbongo won the elections, despite her death.

"After the election, the community and some leaders of the ANC said the councillor position should remain in the family since they had voted for her and the ANC approved their request," he said.

In November 2016, Zulu contested the ward's by-elections and won.

"The word on the street was that my fiancé died as a result of political division within the ANC," he said.

He said the group of people who had demonstrated near their home still don't support him until now.

Zulu said no one has been arrested for Mbongo's murder.

"I had a good view of the man who came in first during the day of the shooting. I also gave police everything they wanted to know at the time. I last heard from police in April 2017," he said.

The commission, chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane, has adjourned until Wednesday.

Read more on:    anc  |  durban  |  moerane commission

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