ANC factionalism rears its ugly head
ANC factionalism reared its head in Rustenburg on Tuesday after a North West party leader was jailed for paying his bodyguard to kill a fellow politician and whistle-blower.
There was a stand-off between two groups – one supporting convicted killer and former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans, 43, and the other for the slain party member, Moss Phakoe. The groups attacked each other in songs, with the one in support of the killers trashing the streets after court proceedings.
Inside the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court, Wolmarans, a member of the provincial executive committee (PEC) of the ANC in the province, listened as Judge Rodney Hendricks sentenced him to 20 years’ imprisonment for the murder of councillor Phakoe three years ago.
His former mayoral bodyguard and the man he paid to pull the trigger, Enoch Matshaba, 41, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Mafikeng High Court sitting in Rustenburg.
Phakoe was killed on the driveway of his Rustenburg North house in March 2009, just two days after handing over a dossier to the former co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister, the late Sicelo Shiceka, on alleged corruption and fraud within the Rustenburg municipality implicating Wolmarans.
The court heard that when the dossier was handed to Shiceka in Wolmarans’s presence, Phakoe had said that day could be his last and also looked at the former mayor and said: “Hate me, but don’t hurt me.”
The court found that by then a plan by Wolmarans and Matshaba to eliminate Phakoe was already afoot. Matshaba had spent some time monitoring Phakoe’s movements from a car parked close to the dead man’s house.
A known trade unionist and ANC councillor who had served under Wolmarans, Phakoe, 52, was hit twice in the head by Matshaba while sitting in his BMW, and his body was left slumped over the steering wheel.
Senior State prosecutor Rapula Molefe described Phakoe as having been a helpless law-abiding citizen who had hated crime. He had been killed in a brutal, cruel and horrible manner, he said.
Hendricks said Wolmarans was the “mastermind” of the “permanent removal of (Phakoe)”. He said Wolmarans had been “clever enough to employ (Matshaba) to be the executioner (because he) didn’t want to dirty (his) hands”.
Political factional fighting has recently seen the North West’s ANC leadership summoned to Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters in Joburg. This was after some members of the PEC, including Wolmarans, were removed from their positions in a meeting organised by a splinter group led by provincial secretary Kabelo Mataboge.
Phakoe’s friend, Alfred Motsi, who had helped in compiling the alleged corruption dossier, on Tuesday urged people not to vote back into office ANC leaders, including secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who had “failed to act on Wolmarans” when alerted to alleged corruption. They had “proceeded to reward him (Wolmarans) with a job as a Speaker in the municipality”.
He called for a follow-up on the corruption and fraud document.
After the sentencing, family, friends and supporters of the Phakoes feasted on two cows in celebration.
Phakoe’s daughter Tshepiso, 26, said: “We’re happy that the man who pulled the trigger and took my father’s life will be in prison for life. As for the family, the loss of a father, an uncle and a trusted pillar of the family continues to be deeply felt.”