'They are doing to me what the DA did to De Lille' – suspended ANC councilor

Sammy Claassen. (Netwerk24, file)
Sammy Claassen. (Netwerk24, file)

A West Coast ANC councillor suspended after alleging racism against the acting provincial chairperson on Friday said he was weighing up his political options, claiming there is "no space for strong coloured leadership" in the party.

Sammy Claassen, who serves as a councillor in the Berg River municipality, told News24 he was a victim of a "one sided-process" after reporting Khaya Magaxa for allegedly using a derogatory word to refer to coloured people at its West Coast regional conference two months ago.

Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs last month confirmed that disciplinary charges would be brought against Claassen as the party had established "beyond any doubt" that Magaxa never made the remarks after engaging with its regional leadership present at the conference in August.

It also had four affidavits supporting this, Jacobs said.

But Claassen insisted that he had two witnesses to back up his claims.

"It's clear that they have made up their minds. They didn't ask for my evidence or call my two witnesses. They embarked on a one-sided process and drew in their own cronies to support them," he charged.

Complaint laid with the SAHRC

"There were discriminatory remarks made against us [coloured people] of an ethnic nature. If the ANC is not able to investigate racism among their own members, they are completely lost and won't make it in 2019."

Claassen reportedly accused Magaxa of calling coloured people "dogs".

He said he had been "through hell" since taking the decision to lodge the complaint. He has also laid a case with the South African Human Rights Commission.

"I have been victimised, sidelined and insulted by senior leaders in public and in newspapers. I have been called a liar and even a racist. I am the victim, but am being painted as the perpetrator.

"They are trying to paint me in a bad light in the public domain, but I will come back stronger. It's clear there is no space for strong coloured leadership.

"They succeeded in silencing a lot of other prominent coloured leaders, like Allan Boesak and Marius Fransman. But I will prove my case."

'A classic case of sour grapes'

Jacobs last month said the ANC's provincial working committee received a full report of the West Coast regional conference in addition to the affidavits and came to a unanimous decision to summarily suspend Claassen's membership in terms of its constitution.

Disciplinary charges were brought against Claassen as it was "clear that he has willfully set out to damage the image of the ANC and its provincial acting chairperson".

Shortly after the allegations surfaced, Jacobs pledged the party's "unflinching support" for Magaxa, calling him a "tried and tested cadre of the liberation movement who would never utter words which would create divisions among the very communities which the ANC seeks to unite".

According to Jacobs, Claassen "could not muster support during the recent ANC West Coast regional conference, hence he is campaigning to divide the organisation".

"This is a classic case of sour grapes, with someone who is so desperate for followers that he is willing to make up stories and create racial divisions as a result.

"We will not allow attention-seeking individuals to bring the ANC into disrepute, nor will we allow the desperation of someone like Claassen to distract us from renewing and uniting the ANC so that we can serve our people in the fight against poverty."

Claassen to make an announcement 'soon'

Claassen said Jacobs "must go to hell".

"I am standing my ground. I will prove it when my case is heard. I am not intimidated because they are trying to silence me," he said.

"They are doing the same thing to me that the DA did to Patricia de Lille. They are no better."

Claassen insisted his complaint was not about contesting for any position.

"It's about them not being willing to investigate serious allegations. They are protecting the perpetrators."

Jacobs, however, countered that Claassen had not attended any of his disciplinary hearings.

"He is playing to the gallery. If he feels he is a victim, he must prove it. If he is interested in clearing his name, he should state his case."

But after 10 years of "working [his] butt off" for the ANC, Claassen said he is weighing up his options.

He was mum on what his political future would hold, but would "make an announcement soon".

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