The Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Kebby Maphatsoe, and three fellow executive members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) – Dumisani Khoza, Deacon Mathe and Johannes “Sparks” Motseki – suffered a major defeat in the South Gauteng High Court on Monday, when an application alleging abuse relating to the MKMVA Trust Fund was upheld by Judge Brian Mashile.
This was a significant victory for five former MK veterans, headed by Omry Makgoale, against one of the key ANC institutions that upheld the regime of former president Jacob Zuma.
Maphatsoe was appointed as a government minister by Zuma despite a previous lapsed application by Makgoale in June 2012 alleging corruption against him and his MKMVA executive colleagues.
Maphatsoe stated last month that he would support Zuma in court.
The application was made in terms of instructions issued at a meeting of more than 900 MK veterans held at the Tshwane Institute of Technology in Soshanguve, Tshwane/Pretoria, in April 2011, under the auspices of a veterans’ body called the Commissariat, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of MK in 1961.
The Commissariat was then dissolved by the former ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, following the failed application in June 2012.
The victory in the High Court was the outcome of seven years of difficult struggles.
Makgoale’s fellow MK veteran applicants were Don Siopho Mashele, Olefile Samuel Mngqibisa, Joseph Mafuya and Moswetsa Simon Molotsi. The sixth applicant, Mbuso Chemist Mlobeli, passed away in 2015 and was buried in an MKMVA funeral.
The applicants were represented by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and Advocate N. Mbelle, from Duma Nokwe and Victoria Mxenge Group of Advocates, acting pro bono, on behalf of Moray Hathorn of attorneys Webber Wentzel.
The respondents and their lawyers were absent.
Judge Mashile’s finding will be forwarded to the Master of the High Court.
The legal representatives of the applicants will be meeting to discuss implementation of the judge’s instructions.
An interim forensic report by accountants SizweNtsalubaGobodo into disbursement of funds belonging to the MKMVA Trust Fund formed the basis of the lapsed application in June 2012.
The successful application changes the balance of forces among MK veterans and represents a significant weakening of the power structure within the ANC upholding Zuma.
Omry Makgoale, a former district chief of staff of MK in the Angolan capital, Luanda, was sent to Quatro prison camp in Angola for nearly five years after being called to prevent a massacre of MK troops at Viana camp outside Luanda in February 1984.
Following an election by all ANC exiles in Tanzania held in September 1989, he was elected chair of the most senior regional ANC organisation in the country, the regional political committee, but he and all elected office-holders were then deposed from office on instructions from the national executive committee of the ANC, based in Lusaka, Zambia.
He is a member of the ANC stalwarts and veterans, and participated in a meeting of the MK Council last year prior to the ANC national elective conference held at Nasrec in Soweto last December, at which Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president.
He has written numerous articles calling for reform in ANC internal elections to prevent bribery and gate-keeping of delegates, as well as reform of the electoral law for national and provincial legislatures, calling for constituency representation on the basis of the majority report of the Slabbert Commission in January 2003.
He is a chief engineer at Necsa at Pelindaba, and took part in the school students’ march in Soweto on June 16 1976 as a senior student at Morris Isaacson High School in Jabavu, Soweto.
He joined the ANC and MK in exile later the same year.
After training in 1977 in the former German Democratic Republic, he was a bodyguard for then acting ANC president Oliver Tambo in Lusaka in 1979-80.
On Saturday 9 June he will chair the third Tsietsi Mashinini Memorial Lecture at Morris Isaacson High School, which will be addressed by Reverend Professor Barney Pityana, founder with Steve Biko of the South African Students Organisation (Saso), the internationally acclaimed sculptor and poet Professor Pitika Ntuli, and Seth Mazibuko, a leader of the South African Students Movement (SASM) in Soweto ahead of the march on June 16 1976.
• Born in Johannesburg in 1941, Paul Trewhela worked in underground journalism with Ruth First and edited the underground journal of MK, Freedom Fighter, during the Rivonia Trial. He was a political prisoner in Pretoria and the Johannesburg Fort as a member of the Communist Party in 1964-1967, separating from the SACP while in prison. In exile in Britain he was co-editor with the late Baruch Hirson of Searchlight South Africa, banned in South Africa. He is the author of Inside Quatro: Uncovering the Exile History of the ANC and SWAPO (Jacana, 2009).