A member of the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) in the Western Cape is in hot water after he was again ordered to step aside in line with the party’s rule, which requires members to step down from leadership positions while facing criminal prosecution.
Sabelo Mahlati, who is the former Boland regional secretary, was ordered to step aside on Friday while the party looked into the status of his criminal prosecution.
Mahlathi and former Cederberg Municipality manager Ian Kenned were arrested on fraud and corruption charges on October 2, 2020.
They both made their first appearance before the Clanwilliam Magistrate’s Court days later.
The Cape Times heard that provincial secretary Neville Delport informed the PEC meeting on Friday that Mahlathi had been on step-aside for the past two years.
The source said Mahlathi had written to the then interim provincial leadership (IPL) on the eve of the elective provincial congress in June notifying them that he had been cleared of the charges against him.
The source said the clearance of charges made him eligible to stand for election in the provincial conference held in Cape Town.
However, the PEC now wants to probe whether Mahlathi may have misled the IPL to contest for the leadership position.
On September 8, Delport wrote to Mahlathi advising him that he had learnt that he would appear in court on Monday.
“You are therefore advised to voluntarily step aside until you prove otherwise that you are found not guilty of the allegations against you,” he wrote in his letter.
In his letter to Delport, Mahlathi registered his unhappiness on being placed on step-aside before his response was received. He said the legal charges against him were struck off the court roll on March 31.
“I again attach the court judgment from the Clanwilliam Court... The same attached court judgment where the matter was struck off the roll and was sent to the IPC and the ANC’s national integrity commission. The ANC subsequently cleared me from step-aside and all my membership rights were duly restored,” Mahlathi wrote in his letter.
He said ANC processes should be followed should there be grounds for him to step aside.
“As things stand the provincial secretary seems to be bordering along flouting organisation processes for malicious ends.
“I therefore put on record that I remain an ANC member in good standing with my full membership rights in effect and as full member of the PEC,” he added.
In a short statement, Delport said on Monday that based (on the fact) that Mahlathi was appearing in court on fraud allegations, the ANC in the province had indeed placed him on step-aside.
“We are, however, disappointed that he did not voluntarily place himself on state-aside and continues to defy our request.
“The PEC has thus mandated the officials to process this matter tomorrow (Tuesday) as far as further action is concerned,” he said.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “Unfortunately, the prosecutor could not confirm what is happening with the case as he said they didn’t have the matter on the roll today.”
Mahlathi said he would have been the first to know had his prosecution been brought back on the roll and if there were plans to resuscitate it.
He noted that he had written to the PEC officials last week and advised anyone with questions to discuss them with him, but he did not get a response.
“I don’t want to insinuate why this matter is being brought up, but it’s the process that I am concerned about,” he said.
“We are going through a process where branches are nominating members of the legislature. I don’t want to say that it is linked to that, but cases like these can disqualify a person from qualifying for such positions,” Mahlathi said.