ANC whistleblowers feared sleaze. Now they fear for their lives
A hit list of 'ringleaders' in an Eastern Cape municipality has sent the ‘troublemakers’ into hiding
Exposing poor service delivery, alleged fraud and corruption in their Mbizana local municipality wards in the Eastern Cape has left one ANC member missing while two fellow comrades have been forced to flee as their lives have been threatened.
One man who attended the December 2017 ANC Nasrec conference has been missing for months, a second person was wounded in a shooting and forced to go into hiding, while a third person was recently sent pictures of dead people who have been shot.
All these are now under investigation by law-enforcement agencies, who were alerted by Durban-based community activist Vanessa Burger.
Burger said a hit list of so-called troublemakers in the local municipality, part of Alfred Nzo District Municipality, was doing the rounds, and the three were said to be the “ringleaders”.
“They fear for their lives. One has been missing since December and two are hiding. One survived after he was shot. The police should act as these people reported allegations of corruption at Mbizana Local Municipality. I’ve contacted the police to intervene,” Burger said.
She has forwarded the information to the provincial police to investigate, who confirmed this to Times Select but declined to give details on the cases under investigation.
Eastern Cape provincial police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said they would not discuss correspondence received by the provincial commissioner.
“It is not the policy of the SAPS to discuss correspondence between the provincial commissioner and any member of the community. Any threats of violence against or intimidation to any member of the community are concerning to the SAPS,” Soci said.
She confirmed the missing person report was received by Mbizana police.
“All the support to assist in tracking and tracing the victim were called, including K9 and aerial support but all the efforts to locate the victim were in vain,” she said.
Bongile Tshepo Hlambelo, 36, of ward 6 in Mbizana, disappeared and was never seen again after attending the Nasrec ANC conference in December last year, where he was offered a job of “beefing up security”.
His disappearance came barely five months after his close friend, also from ward 6, was shot several times last year in July in the township of Umlazi in Durban.
The shooting victim, who spoke to Times Select on condition of anonymity, survived, and he had to take his family and parents out of Bizana, the seat of Mbizana Local Municipality, because he felt unsafe.
“After my friend went missing on his way to Nasrec, my family had to move out of Bizana immediately. I was shot, and survived five months earlier before they came for him. I am not big in politics, but I supported my friend’s stand against corruption, then I was targeted,” he said.
The third person, from ward 8, had to run for his life after he was sent pictures of dead people who appeared to have been shot. These pictures were sent from an unknown phone number.
“Those pictures sent to me left me scared, and I could not do anything but to leave Bizana. That area is not safe,” said the man, who is also not identified for safety reasons.
All three complained about alleged corruption within the municipality, and had voiced their dissatisfaction on a number of projects that had not been done or finished even though government had paid for them.
They complained about dirty drinking water, broken RDP houses, poor electrification in ward 8, a community hall that had not been maintained and a lack of proper roads and speed bumps on their main road.
They accused the municipality officials and ward councillors of colluding with unscrupulous service providers who would not finish projects.
“We know that in every budget there’s money for these projects, but the municipality fails, and if we are protesting we are shot at by the VIP police from the municipality, and we are also called ringleaders. When you receive pictures of dead people, those are threat to your life,” said the third man, from ward 8.
But municipal manager Luvuyo Mahlaka denied this, saying service delivery was key in their municipality and that he was not aware of any “displacement of people”.
“There is no truth in this; our VIP unit only goes to communities when they accompany political principals. They only take orders pertaining to their job description from municipal management. They do not target anyone, and the municipality is not aware and has had not been made aware of any displacement of people,” Mahlaka said.
Mahlaka said projects in all 31 wards of Mbizana were implemented evenly and accordingly as per the municipal prioritisation.
The missing man’s brother, Bayanda, said the family were worried. “When he got the call, he was excited as he was to get a job to give him money at that time of the year. The people who gave him a lift to Bizana before the trip to Nasrec are known, and police know that,” said Bayanda.
Bizana police spokesperson Warrant Officer Zilungile Nkamba said Hlambelo’s case was still being investigated. “We can confirm that a case of a missing person was reported, and he has not been found, but police are investigating,” said Nkamba.
Burger said those vocal in Bizana were living in terror. “The community appears to be living in terror while trying to voice issues of corruption and service delivery at Mbizana Local Municipality.”
The municipality said only a few projects had not been completed.
“Magqabasini access road requires maintenance, and there are challenges on water [backlog] provision in Mbizana which are being addressed,”Mahlaka said .