Capetown-140413-Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe of Gugulethu talks about the people who set his house on fire-picture Bheki Radebe

Cape Town - An ANC councillor has been living in a safe house and was assigned bodyguards by the city after his home was burnt down in an alleged arson attack last month.

On Sunday ANC leaders in the province, including secretary Songezo Mjongile, rallied behind ward 40 councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe, whose shack was burnt down last month.

Nqavashe, who is the ANC branch secretary in ward 40, said he was in a meeting in Khayelitsha on March 13 when he received a call from a neighbour telling him his shack was burning.

He alleges that the same people who petrol-bombed his house were involved in the disruption of his meeting and a community project.

These incidents prompted the city to assign two bodyguards, who accompany him when he goes to his office and attends meetings.

Nqavashe said he reported a case of arson to police in Gugulethu and hoped there would be arrests soon.

He said the drama started when a group from the Barcelona informal settlement, believed to be with the Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement, demolished a resident’s home last month.

A few people were arrested and denied bail in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court. Nqavashe said there were rumours in the community that he was responsible for the people being remanded.

He said the following day his shack was set alight. Some residents witnessed the attack and identified five people affiliated to Ses’khona.

“This has been orchestrated as a threat against me, but I’m not concerned. I’m not scared. I will continue to serve my constituency. I’m at my office, here in Gugulethu, daily because I will not be intimidated by this,” Nqavashe said.

“It is not the whole community that is doing this. It is a few individuals from the community. They can come in secret and burn my house, but in terms of me discharging my duties as a councillor they won’t stop me.”

He claimed that five people, “also with Ses’khona”, had disrupted a meeting he had held in the area and had caused a disturbance at a roads upgrade project, demanding to be hired.

Ses’khona leader Andile Lili denied Nqavashe’s claims, saying the councillor was “lying about Ses’khona”.

“We would not stoop that low, to tell members to burn people’s houses. We don’t condone violence as Ses’khona.

“He (Nqavashe) must do the right thing and resign because people are complaining about him.”

Lili said the Ses’khona leadership had been told by Barcelona residents that Nqavashe lived in Parow and was hardly ever available to hear their grievances.

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Cape Times