Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato. Photo: Courtney Africa

COMMUNITY Safety MEC Dan Plato has accused the ANC of conspiring with gang bosses, and even going so far as to bring in criminals from other provinces, to destabilise the Western Cape.

Plato made these allegations during his budget speech in the provincial legislature on Friday night.

ANC politicians immediately jumped in to vehemently deny his claims during the debate, in turn accusing the MEC of being in bed with underworld figures.

The raucous budget debate saw MEC Robin Carlisle claim that the ANC top brass who had met with crime bosses included President Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s Western Cape leader Marius Fransman.

During his speech, Plato told the house: “The ANC is not looking to stop the violence and bloodshed, and they do not care about the safety of the people. What they do care about is power.”

Plato said he had received “reliable information” that senior ANC leaders met numerous top gang bosses in the Western Cape.

“The violence we currently experience in the Western Cape is nothing other than politically motivated. People attending these meetings reported that one of the topics discussed is how to make the Western Cape ungovernable with the assistance of the gangsters,” he said.

The MEC, who has himself made news by meeting gang bosses, slammed what he termed the “hypocrisy of the ANC, who have shouted from the rooftops about my talks with gangs and my efforts to make peace”.

“They do not say a word about their own meetings with gang bosses,” Plato added.

ANC MPLs Patrick McKenzie and Pierre Uys responded heatedly during the debate.

Uys shouted: “This is nonsense… Where did you get your information from… the gangsters?”

Other ANC members shouted at Plato: “Shut up, you don’t know what you are talking about.”

During his reply to questions from the house, Plato referred to a contentious dossier in his possession, containing unsubstantiated claims made towards the end of last year by disaffected former ANC supporter Jeff Franciscus.

Plato made notes on Franciscus’s claims during a series of meetings with the controversial businessman.

In the dossier, Franciscus – who died in a car accident in November – is recorded as claiming the ANC in the Western Cape was bent on making the province “ungovernable” by the ruling DA.

In particular, Franciscus is recorded as fingering Fransman – now deputy minister of International Relations and Co-operation – as conspiring to destabilise the province.

The Franciscus dossier also mentions an underworld figure from Durban (whose name is known to Weekend Argus), a man with close links to both the ANC and the Americans gang in Cape Town, who allegedly played a facilitating role in linking up the gangsters with politicians in a series of meetings – the first of which reportedly took place on May 2 last year.

Plato told the House: “Fransman is on record denying that he knew Jeff Franciscus, but I was with Franciscus at a restaurant when Fransman called him twice… And he still claims he doesn’t know him.”

When McKenzie challenged Plato to name the top ANC officials he was talking about, Carlisle shouted from the benches: “Zuma and Fransman.”

McKenzie said Plato was blundering.

“Spare him (Plato) further embarrassment and release him… His dalliances with druglords and gangsters have left us aghast. Trying to broker a peace deal between two gangs needs consultation, but appearing to be befriending gangsters and giving them a kind ear is a completely different story.”

McKenzie told the House Plato was on a dubious campaign to defame an executive member of state, and that this was tantamount to sedition and “undermining the democratically elected government of our country”.

He further accused Plato of making unsubstantiated allegations from a secret file.

“Is this MEC using his fiduciary position and state resources to compile information against a political opponent which is used to discredit such a fellow politician?

“This cannot be tolerated,” McKenzie said.

He also said Western Cape Police commissioner Arno Lamoer should be wary about what information on crime operations he divulged to Plato.

“Knowing the MEC wines and dines with druglords, he (Lamoer) cannot be drawn into any secret conversations,” said McKenzie.

He added: “In light of MEC Plato being a member of the DA, and whose job as MEC it is to bring in funds for the DA, we wonder how much of the funds he’s brought to the party he got from gangsters.”

Plato’s claims about an ANC conspiracy follow hot on the heels of similar allegations made by DA provincial leader Theuns Botha, who blamed the ANC as the instigator in a spate of service-delivery protests in the Western Cape.

According to the DA, the ANC task team instrumental in mobilising protest action in small rural towns includes Fransman, ANC provincial treasurer Fezile Calana, and Duncan Korabie, an ANC-affiliated advocate.

Botha claimed recent protests in Grabouw and Villiersdorp were planned months in advance by an ANC task team established with the objective of reclaiming power in Western Cape councils by any means necessary.

Meanwhile, five independent sources with close ties to Cape Flats gangs told Weekend Argus there have been meetings dating back to May last year between ANC politicians – allegedly including Zuma – and some gang bosses and evangelical pastors with underworld links. Two sources claimed a meeting occurred at Genadendal.

But some sources claimed the meetings looked at winning support for the ANC. Another source claimed the meetings were part of the activities of a “presidential task team” set up to help reintegrate former gang members and find them work opportunities.

Pastor Aaron Messelaar, administrator of the Griqua royal house, who appears (along with underworld figures) in a picture taken with Zuma, said: “We did meet with the president… but the meeting was merely arranged to get government support for the commemoration festivities for Griqua chief Adam Kok held in August last year. We met with the president to get him to address the festivities.”

Messelaar claimed the DA was “trying to cover up the mess Plato made going around with gangsters”.

“There were two occasions that we met the president, and each time it involved the Khoi-San communities and, unless I count as a gangster, the meeting had nothing to do with this bizarre claim. This is a political setup.”

Messelaar was referring to Plato’s controversial use of senior gangsters like Ernie Lastig as go-betweens with warring junior thugs in areas like Hanover Park and Lavender Hill – which Plato defended in his budget speech yesterday.

“I engage with gangs in an attempt to stop the bloodshed, to stop the violence and to stop the killings that these gangs perpetrate. I have engaged with community gangsters to stop killings and shootings, and encourage them to seek a positive life instead of a life of crime,” Plato said.

ANC insiders who did not want to be named said they only knew of ANC leaders meeting various focus groups, including businessmen, religious leaders and even leaders of the Cape minstrels.

When approached for comment on the DA’s claims, a furious ANC national spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, said: “It’s utterly outrageous. Our president has never had an organised meeting with gangsters. He will not knowingly meet with gangs. He’s a man of the people and will never meet with gangs to incite violence. He is not capable of instigating violence.”

He said the only meeting held at Genadendal last May was one with traditional leaders and a delegation of the Khoisan and Griqua representatives, who wanted to discuss government recognition for their culture, their language and identity.

Mthembu conceded that it was not impossible that some people may have misrepresented themselves when they attended the meeting.

“The president meets with all kinds of people, but will not knowingly meet with gangs. It is an insult to the president and to the person of Jacob Zuma to claim that he is behind a scheme to make the Western Cape ungovernable through violence.”

Mthembu was suspicious about the timing of the DA’s claims, which came only days after Zille’s Twitter comments referring to Eastern Cape pupils as refugees, as well as Plato’s meeting with gang bosses.

“These are dangerous and irresponsible allegations made by the DA, and we can only hope they will not make these claims in the future.”

He added that the ANC had never used violence to win an election, irrespective of whether it meant they would lose. “Why we lost the Western Cape was not because of the DA, but because of our own mistakes.” - Weekend Argus

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