KIMBERLEY: The ANC branch secretary in Danielskuil, Northern Cape, and the party secretary of the ZF Mgcawu Region, Zonisele Magawu, 29, appeared in the Postmasburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday in connection with the murder of DA councillor Johannes Baaitjies.

Baaitjies was shot several times shortly before he was supposed to be sworn in as a DA councillor at the Kgatelopele Municipality last week.

He was lured to a business meeting outside Danielskuil before being shot three times.

Magawu was contesting Ward 1 during the local government elections, but the ward was won by a candidate from the Kgatelopele Community Forum (KCF).

A post on Magawu’s social media page after the elections stated that there was “no way that the ANC could have lost the elections in Ward 1. No way and I knew it just from our special votes that we were in the lead. And I got the trick that was used, hahahaha”.

The KCF and DA formed a coalition to take control of Kgatelopele Municipality, although the inauguration did not take place yesterday after both parties walked out of the council meeting.

The ANC has three seats, the DA two (following the death of Baatjies) and the KCF one.

An administrator will 
have to be appointed until a by-election can be held on
November 9.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said Magawu was charged with the murder of Baatjies on August 19, as well as the attempted murder of his business partner, who is still in a critical condition.

“The case was postponed to August 29 for a formal bail application. The investigation continues while the suspect remains in custody.”

KCF chairperson Norman Prince, who would have been inaugurated as the Kgatelopele municipal mayor, said they walked out of the council meeting.

“We were prevented from addressing council before proceedings started. We do not wish to be party to a council that has blood on its hands. Baaitjes, who was supposed to have been inaugurated yesterday, was assassinated in cold blood.

“The opposition-led council was stolen from us through the barrel of a gun. The community will demonstrate outside court and draw up a petition when the bail hearing takes place next week.

“Magawu must be denied bail because he is facing serious charges and it is an extremely high-profile case.”

Prince claimed that he, just like Baaitjies, had also received death threats.

“We have received anonymous phone calls as well as 
messages that we will be dealt with. If the police do not provide us with security, we will report the matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

DA constituency head advocate Boitumelo Babuseng added that the DA walked out of the council meeting in unison with their alliance partner.

“The inauguration did not take place because of the assassination of Baaitjies. There will be no council until a by-election is held. No quorum could be formed as only ANC members remained behind in the meeting.”

He added that they had requested the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) to appoint an administrator to oversee the municipality.

“The coalition with the KCF will operate outside the 
municipality until the by-election is concluded and will reconstitute it at the next 
council meeting.”

Babuseng indicated that DA members would join in the demonstration at Magawu’s bail hearing next week.

DA provincial chairperson Harold McGluwa welcomed the arrest and condemned the “lethal political intolerance” displayed.

Coghsta spokesperson Xhanti Teki said the Kgatelopele Municipality had 14 days in which to establish a council after the inauguration did not take place yesterday.

“MEC Alvin Botes will intervene without hesitation should any party obstruct 
the administration of the municipality.

“If a municipal council does not have enough members to form a quorum for a meeting, the MEC for local government in the province will appoint one or more administrators to ensure the continued functioning of the municipality.”

He stated that security matters of councillors fell under the jurisdiction of the SAPS.

“Councillors have a right to report any threat to their safety to the police. A detailed report from the municipality is still awaited.”

ANC provincial secretary Zamani Saul “noted with regret” the arrest of one of its councillor candidates.

“The ANC detests any form of criminality, especially in the political space, and is on record to have dealt decisively with matters such as this and will continue to act likewise without fail.”