‘I don’t fear death any more,’ says activist who ‘was shot to get to Mabuza’

David Mabuza and Cyril Ramaphosa share a light moment while visiting AmaXhosa King Zwelonke Mpendulo Sigcawu at the Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale. Picture: Ziyanda Zweni
David Mabuza and Cyril Ramaphosa share a light moment while visiting AmaXhosa King Zwelonke Mpendulo Sigcawu at the Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale. Picture: Ziyanda Zweni

Economic transformation activist Sunday Mathebula claims that the gunmen who attacked him six weeks ago were actually targeting newly elected ANC deputy president and Mpumalanga premier, David Mabuza.

He believed he was targeted because Mabuza had switched his allegiances from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC conference in Nasrec in December, and also named two national Cabinet ministers as being behind the attack.

Mathebula, a secretary for the non-governmental organisation Practical Radical Economic Transformation (Pret) revealed these startling allegations in an interview with City Press following his release from hospital.

Mathebula was shot on December 8 and then dumped at Ekangala Industrial Park near Bronkhorstspruit to die. The assailants made off with Mathebula’s Jeep and wallet.

He recently surfaced from being in hiding, but is under 24-hour protection.

Pret campaigns for economic transformation but has been deeply involved in ANC politics.

Before Mathebula was shot, the organisation had announced that its members, who are unemployed youths, must be active in ANC branches and nominate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as president and Mabuza as her deputy.

Mathebula is a former ANC Youth League chairperson in Nkangala region and ANC chief whip at Emalahleni council.

“Who would want to shoot me?” Mathebula asked. He said when he was attacked he was also tortured about the whereabouts of Mabuza and Pret president Themba Sigudla, who was also present at the interview.

Both men believed that the shooting could be linked to indications that Mabuza was no longer going to support Dlamini-Zuma but had switched allegiances to Ramaphosa at the ANC conference in Nasrec.

Mpumalanga delegates surprised all and sundry at the conference when they switched their support to Ramaphosa despite expectations that they would back Dlamini-Zuma when Mabuza’s attempt for unity, to have an uncontested conference where new leaders would be appointed by consensus, failed.

“Sigudla advised Mabuza to go with Ramaphosa, then I was shot,” Mathebula said.

He named two Cabinet members as being behind his attack. These two cannot be named at this stage. Mathebula is due to make a full statement to the police this week.

Mathebula claimed that a friend of a minister (whose name is known to City Press), with whom he served in the ANC Youth League regional top six, had been calling him two months before the incident and warned him that he must cut ties with Mabuza and Sigudla.

“After I was shot, this minister’s friend called my wife and told her that he had warned me that I would be killed. I’ll include every detail in my police statement and give them the names of the people they must investigate,” he said.

Sigudla said they had also hired a private investigator to find the culprits. He showed City Press text notifications from a bank indicating that Mathebula’s petrol card was being used after he was shot and was in hospital.

The notifications indicate that the petrol card was used at the Nkomazi, Middelburg and Diamond Hill toll gates on the N4. Sigudla’s suspicion is that the hitmen travelled between Nkomazi near Malalane and Pretoria.

“Where do ministers live? In Pretoria. Common sense tells you what is happening here. There are people who have approached me and said they can get those individuals who tried to kill Mathebula. They’re trying to steer this case in all directions, but we’re very close to getting them,” Sigudla said.

“We don’t fear death any more. We want to see those politicians in the dock. We’re concerned that the KwaZulu-Natal killings are being implemented here,” he added.

Mabuza’s spokesperson, Zibonele Mncwango, was not available for comment.

Pret won’t leave ANC politics

Sigudla said Pret would continue to participate in ANC politics because its members belonged to the organisation.

The organisation is campaigning for Mpumalanga Public Works MEC Sasekani Manzini to replace Mabuza as provincial ANC chairperson.

He said that the organisation was actively involved in Mabuza’s deputy presidency campaign and had bankrolled it by paying for stadiums and mobilisation.

This, Sigudla said, they did with the expectations that Mabuza would be sympathetic to their struggle for economic transformation that benefited the throngs of unemployed youths in the province.

Sigudla said that they supported Manzini to take over from Mabuza because she was the perfect candidate to unite the ANC in the province.

Other contenders were Mpumalanga cooperative governance and traditional affairs head, Peter Nyoni, safety and security MEC Pat Ngomana, Members of Parliament Cathy Dlamini and Fish Mahlalela and City of Mbombela speaker Mandla Msibi.

Nyoni and Manzini’s campaigns had gained momentum over the past two weeks.

“We’re championing the unity project and want to see the unity displayed by Ramaphosa’s and Mabuza’s election being reflected in this province. Pret has not consulted Manzini about this but we looked at a credible woman who is young, energetic and not tainted by corruption,” Sigudla said.

“In the end, we want the Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma factions in the province to unite,” he added. The ANC is due to announce a date for a provincial general council where Mabuza’s replacement will be elected. Provincial deputy ANC chairperson, Violet Siwela, will also have to be replaced following her election to the national executive committee.

Sizwe sama Yende
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9001
w:www.citypress.co.za  e: Sizwe.Yende@citypress.co.za
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