KwaZulu-Natal ANC local govt candidates removed from list for facing criminal charges

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The ANC has pulled two mayoral candidates.
The ANC has pulled two mayoral candidates.
Tebogo Letsie
  • Newcastle and Nkangala executive mayors, have been left off the ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial members' list to be submitted to the IEC as candidates for the local government elections. 
  • The pair was removed by the provincial ANC after their branches elected them not withstanding the party's stance on criminally charged individuals.
  • They have both been criminally charged and have appeared in court.

Newcastle mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba and Nkangala mayor Thembi Sarah Masilela were removed at the eleventh hour from the ANC's provincial candidate list for individuals put forward by the party to contest the local government elections (LGE) scheduled for 27 October 2021.

The pair's inclusion in the initial list caused uproar from ANC members from the districts represented by Mahlaba and Masilela, "... who pointed out that the two were facing criminal charges".

Mahlaba appeared in the Newcastle Magistrate's Court in July on charges of theft, malicious damage to property, and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. 

According to the charge sheet, it is alleged that on 3 September 2020, Mahlaba, who was being driven by his bodyguards, assaulted a man, who has not been named.

The man reportedly spoke back to the mayor after Mahlaba asked why they were continuing to install fibre when they had been told to stop, because local residents had complained that the work was disrupting water and electricity services, and the municipality had instructed them to halt their work.

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Mahlaba allegedly assaulted the worker, assisted by his bodyguards, who have also been charged with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, malicious damage to property and theft, and told to return to court on August 26.

This is not the first time that Mahlaba has found himself on the wrong side of the law. 

The Newcastle mayor, who is also the ANC eMalahleni regional chairperson, was arrested in 2019 for the 2016 murder of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader, Wandile Ngubeni, however, the charges were withdrawn following the death of a key witness.

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In terms of the ANC step-aside guidelines, Mahlaba should have vacated his mayoral position pending the finalisation of his criminal case but has retained his position and is continuing with his mayoral duties.

A provincial leader who spoke to News24 claimed: "Mahlaba is one of the few staunch and open KwaZulu-Natal supporters of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, as you know ahead of the Nasrec conference in 2017, he was able to sway the region away from the province, which supported Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and backed Ramaphosa, who eventually won the contest hence he has been treated differently.

READ | Newcastle Municipality says charges against mayor are ‘frivolous’

"He has refused to step aside despite being charged with criminal offenses and the fact that he found himself in on the list in not by coincidence. 

"In the interim, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba continues to serve the residents of Newcastle and pleads with people to allow the law to take its course," he said.

Coincidentally, Nkangala Mayor Thembi Masilela appeared along with nine suspects in the Middelburg Magistrate's Court on charges of fraud and theft, while the ANC in the province was concluding the lists for submission to the IEC before the 21:00 deadline on Monday. 

D
Newcastle Mayor Ntuthuko Mahlaba.
File/News24

The charges against Masilela and her co-accused relate to R248 000 that was initially earmarked for Heritage Day celebrations but was allegedly misappropriated. 

The DA in the district also called on the Hawks to investigate allegations of financial misconduct against Masilela relating to the mayor overstepping her administrative role when she allegedly misused her power as a mayor by securing R201 520 from municipal funds to fund a trip to the SAMSRA games which were held in Durban in 2019. 

Court

The court granted all the suspects R10 000 bail and the matter was postponed until 10 September for the establishment of a Commercial Crimes Court in Middelburg to where the matter will be transferred. 

Having been initially included on the list, Mahlaba and Masilela were later removed. 

Their inclusion raised eyebrows given the ANC's continued stance that, "... once you have a criminal record of any kind, you cannot be appointed to represent the party". 

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A stance that has since been further entrenched by the task team of ANC veterans - led by former treasurer general Mathews Phosa and former President Kgalema Motlanthe who presented guidelines during the ANC's NEC meeting in February - that resolved that members ought to step aside following indictment on criminal charges; or be temporarily suspended following indictment on criminal charges should they not willingly do so. 

Despite such stringent resolutions regarding stepping aside, both Mahlaba and Masilela have remained in their positions despite the charges against them. 

Nkangala ANC regional spokesperson Sello Matshoga confirmed that Masilela was not on the list. "We can confirm that Masilela is not on the list that we submitted, but we can also confirm that she was arrested and did appear today [Monday] before the court and in accordance with the ANC resolutions, since she is now charged she has to step aside," said Matshoga.

ANC provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela said he could not comment on the matter given that he was not aware of undertakings being concluded by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial list committees, and referred News24 to provincial Secretary-General Mdumiseni Ntuli. 

Ntuli did not respond to calls, and comment from Mahlaba was not immediately available. 

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