Supporters of slain councillor face off with accused’s backers

2018-10-12 15:59
Supporters of slain ANC activist Musawenkosi ‘Maqatha’ Mchunu and supporters of murder accused councillor Nkosinathi ‘TK’ Gambu were separated by the police to avoid confrontation outside the magistrate’s court on Thursday.

Supporters of slain ANC activist Musawenkosi ‘Maqatha’ Mchunu and supporters of murder accused councillor Nkosinathi ‘TK’ Gambu were separated by the police to avoid confrontation outside the magistrate’s court on Thursday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Tensions between ANC members from KwaPata simmered as two groups faced off against each other outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. 

Both groups — one supporting the six accused and the other supporting the family of Musawenkosi “Maqatha” Mchunu — sang and toyi-toyied on Church Street most of the day while the court was in session.

The defence camp had T-shirts with the face of ward 10 councillor Nkosinathi Gambu and the slogan #Wenzen’uGambu (What has Gambu done?) while the other group displayed Mchunu’s face.

“We are here to support our councillor and the comrades that he is being detained with. The state has no evidence to keep them in detention so they must be released on bail so that they can go on with their lives while the police try and investigate this case properly instead of rushing to arrest innocent people,” said Phathiswa Mncube from KwaPata.

Mncube, who is also a member of the ANC branch executive committee in ward 10, believes the arrests and the recent raids were politically motivated.

“These arrests are dividing the ANC ... We strongly believe that people are being targeted as a ploy to taint their image and we are calling on the national leadership to intervene because this is going to hurt the ANC’s elections campaign,” she said.

She alleged that some “political opportunists” were already canvassing to unseat Gambu before the court found him guilty.

“Our comrades are being publicly prosecuted at public meetings and the ANC leadership needs to intervene because this needs to stop,” said Mncube.

The group that came out in support of Mchunu’s family said they were disappointed that magistrate Ashin Singh refused to recuse himself from the matter.

“We are concerned about the allegations [made in court] that there is photographic evidence linking him to the defence team and the [uMgungundlovu District] deputy mayor [Thandiwe ‘Fucwana’ Zungu] but we are still hopeful that justice will prevail,” said ANCWL regional secretary Zanele Ngcobo.

Both Ngcobo and Sanco’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary, Richard Mkhungo, said the ANC leadership had issued an instruction cautioning its members against supporting “the perpetrators of crime” so they did not understand how some KwaPata residents had come out in support of Gambu and his co-accused.

“It is our recommendation that the deputy mayor [Zungu] should also consider stepping down as she has been tainted by this matter. This will be in the best interest of the organisation,” said Mkhungo.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  political killings

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