Western Cape ANC condemns attack on councillor's office

2016-04-14 18:37


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Cape Town - The ANC in the Western Cape condemned as thuggery three separate attacks on its ward councillors around the city after a Crossroads councillor's office was burnt down on Wednesday night.

"That place is ashes. This is thuggery, pure criminality," said John Mfusi, an African National Congress provincial executive committee member, on Thursday after visiting the remains of Ward 35 councillor Mzuzile Mpondwana's office.

"Where are the police? Councillors don't have bodyguards, they are supposed to be protected by the community."

It is the third time that Mpondwana's property has been torched. His office has been torched before, and last year on May 28 he and his family lost everything when their house was burnt down during allegations of housing corruption in the wake of a massive protest in Philippi.

Mpondwana told News24 on Thursday that he was at a meeting at the community hall in Lower Crossroads, where his office is located, to plan for the August 3 local government elections.

Between 20:30 and 21:00, he and the other people attending the meeting were confronted by a group of men armed with a gun and a container of petrol.

They chased everybody out of the office and sprinkled petrol around the hall, and then set it alight.

'My wife and kids are nervous'

When the people attending the meeting tried to run and drive away, shots were fired at them.

Nobody was physically injured, but one bullet smashed a car windscreen.

"We are fine," Mpondwana told News24. "But my wife and kids are nervous."

Among the items destroyed was equipment he used to help people with official letters of proof of address, which they needed to apply for a job.

He said he would not be bowed and vowed to carry on with his work.

Ward 35 in Philippi has been a hotspot for a few years, with the previous ANC councillor Thobile Gqola removed during allegations that he fraudulently benefited from selling government-built houses meant for the poor.

Mpondwana replaced Gqola after winning 73% of the vote in a 2014 by-election, but the allegations lingered, this time seemingly directed at Mpondwana.

Mpondwana said Wednesday night's attack could be related to complaints over delegates by people who joined the ANC recently, and now wanted to be on lists of delegations who convey branch views to higher party structures.

SACP condemns 'community careerists'

Regional ANC members went to visit him to offer their support, and to gather information on at least two other attacks on the property of ANC councillors - Mfuleni councillor Themba Honono and Dunoon councillor Lubabalo Makeleni.

The SA Communist Party in the Western Cape said it was dismayed by the attacks and warned people with grievances against their councillors or their government not to become "community careerists who suddenly have an interest in becoming service delivery protest leaders".

At the same time it said the blame for the unhappiness over socio-economic conditions lay firmly at the door of the DA-led City of Cape Town.

It accused the city of neglecting people in these areas and then sitting back to take political advantage out of the situation.

Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut confirmed that they were investigating a case of arson after a property in Ngqwangi Street, Lower Crossroads, was damaged by fire on Thursday.

No one had yet been arrested.

Meanwhile, a house of a member of the Democratic Transport and Allied Workers Union was burnt down in Khayelitsha on April 6.

It was the home of Jafta Memani, a former member of the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union.

General secretary Vusi Ntshangase said none of their members were part of a strike last week, and issued a call for restraint.

He said that Memani had lost everything, including clothes and linen.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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