Man in court for DA councillor's murder

Cape Town - A 29-year-old man appeared in the Postmasburg Magistrate's Court on Monday for the murder of DA councillor Johannes Baaitjies, the Hawks said.

The accused, Zonisele Magawu, has been charged with the murder of Baaitjies and the attempted murder of a man travelling with him, who was also shot, but survived.

Magawu was remanded in custody and would return to court on August 29, said Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

Baaitjies was shot in the head and upper body on the eve of being inaugurated. DA Northern Cape leader Andrew Louw has labelled the murder a political killing.

Baaitjies was due to be sworn in to the plenary council of the Kgatelopele municipality, but as a result of the shooting, the first meeting was postponed.

Municipal manager Morgan Motswana said all members of council were so shocked by the shooting and death of Baaitjies that the inaugural meeting was postponed to Monday, August 22.

August 24 deadline

Baaitjies won the seat for the DA in Ward 2, but his death left the small council hung, with three councillors in the ANC, and three in a coalition between two DA councillors, including Baaitjies, and two councillors for the Kgatelopele Community Forum (KCF).

If they had voted together as planned, the ANC would have been ousted as the controlling party in the council.

"We attempted to inaugurate today [Monday], but we couldn't proceed," said Motswana.

However, in terms of the law, the council has until August 24 to do so and will attempt another meeting before then.

"If we don't make it on the 24th, then the MEC [for co-operative governance] will have to make an intervention," he explained.

The Kgatelopele council is regarded as a plenary council in terms of the Municipal Structures Act, because it is so small, and it also does not have a speaker.

Added pressure

The town of Danielskuil is situated almost halfway between Kimberley and Kuruman.

Sparks fly in the council from time to time, with the Kgatelopele municipality having previously obtained an interdict against the KCF and its chairperson Norman Prince, to prevent it from allegedly selling council land at R5 a plot and to stop protests by KCF in the town.

Motswana said it was important that voting took place and hoped this would happen at the next meeting, which had already been called.

"If you don't have a councillor, and if you have issues, who do you go to? Council is not just about water, refuse collection. It is about government services," said Motswana.

The council is under additional pressure in that in terms of Section 29 of the Municipal Structures Act, local municipalities must have their first sitting before the district municipality can sit. The Kgatelopele municipality falls under the ZF Mgcawu District Municipality.

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