Kimberley - A DA ward councillor in the Northern Cape was shot execution style in an apparent political assassination on Thursday morning.
Johannes Baaitjie, 49, was killed just a day before he was to be sworn in as a member of the opposition-led Kgatelopele Municipality in Danielskuil.
The Kgatelopele Community Forum (KCF) along with the DA would have formed a coalition majority, with the ANC holding three seats and the opposition four.
Eyewitnesses said that the victim’s hands and feet had been bound with wire before he was shot twice in the head and once in the heart.
His body was dragged a few metres before being dumped along the side of the road.
He was found lying face down, about three kilometres outside Danielskuil, on the Groenwater road, on Thursday morning.
No arrests have been made, while the investigation has been handed over to the Hawks.
Provincial SAPS head of communications, Brigadier Masebueng Mochologi, confirmed that the body of a 49-year-old man was found with multiple gunshot wounds, lying next to the road near Danielskuil. “It appears as if the deceased left with his bakkie from Danielskuil on Wednesday at about 5pm and was travelling with another male passenger. This man was also shot and was found inside the parked bakkie near Postmasburg Primary School. He was taken to hospital.
“Both the men were found by members of the community between 6am and 7.30am (yesterday).”
The police were unable to confirm reports that the injured passenger, who was shot in the jaw, had died en route to the Kimberley Hospital on Thursday.
KCF chairman, Norman Prince, who was to be inaugurated as the Kgatelopele executive mayor, said that Baaitjie’s body was dragged from the main road and dumped along the side of the road.
“I am still shaking and in shock. There was a lot of blood and his hands and feet were bound before he was shot. The manner in which he was killed was cruel and brutal, especially since he had no known enemies.
“The person who shot him wanted to make sure that he did not survive.”
Prince believed that there were forces who were intent on preventing the coalition from taking control of the municipality.
“There are individuals who do not want numerous irregularities to be exposed.”
He stated that the inauguration of the new council would be postponed until Monday.
“We have agreed to elect a hung council where the ANC has three seats and the opposition (KCF and DA) has three seats (until Baaitjie is replaced). We will appoint an interim council so that services can continue.”
DA constituency head, Advocate Boitumelo Babuseng, said Baaitjie had previously received death threats.
“Baaitjie told me that people had threatened to kill him and I dismissed them as being idle promises.”
He added that Baaitjie had met someone on the road between Danielskuil and Postmasburg on Wednesday night, where he was lured under false pretences.
“Baaitjie, who ran a small private paving business on the side, was offered a job where he was instructed to come alone. It is no coincidence that this took place on the eve before he was supposed to be inaugurated as a municipal councillor.
“Both the Kgatelopele and Ubuntu municipalities would have been run by opposition coalitions.”
Babuseng indicated that Baaitjie had decided to take a family friend along, who was also shot.
“I am devastated and heartbroken. We were supposed to be celebrating a victory yesterday and instead we are mourning his death. Baaitjie was a dedicated worker.
“His efforts will not go to waste as I am confident that we will retain the constituency after the by-election. A family has been left without a father and a breadwinner.
“The Danielskuil community is extremely close-knit and is still reeling in shock. It has also left the Kgatelopele Municipality in a very delicate situation.”
Independent Electoral Commission provincial electoral officer, Bonolo Modise, confirmed that a by-election would be held, 90 days after a vacancy has being declared.
“The police must first conduct a post mortem to determine the cause of death and a death certificate must be produced by the municipal manager, before a vacancy can be declared at the municipality.”
Modise indicated that the council could agree to nominate an interim mayor and Speaker, until the by-election was concluded.
Spokesman for the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Xhanti Teki, said MEC Alvin Botes would await a detailed report from the municipality.
“The MEC has received unconfirmed reports on the passing of a ward councillor and extends his heartfelt condolences to Baaitjie’s family, friends and the Kgatelopele community.
“Municipal councils have until August 24 to convene council meeting. The Kgatelopele Municipality operates on a plenary system, which means that powers are vested to the whole council with the mayor/Speaker as the chairperson.
“The council will have to resolve internally and nominate for the position of mayor/Speaker.”
DA provincial leader Andrew Louw was convinced that the murder was politically motivated. “Baaitjie received death threats shortly after winning ward 2 in Danielskuil, successfully wrestling it from the clutches of the ANC.
“The DA vehemently denounces any kind of prejudice and criminal activity based on political affiliation. The DA will not allow cowardly acts committed by faceless thugs to derail us from our efforts to govern in order to stamp out corruption, create jobs and deliver services to bring the change that moves South Africa forward again.”
He added that the DA would contest the by-election in the hung council.
ANC provincial secretary, Zamani Saul, condemned the alleged assassination of Baaitjie.
“The ANC condemns any politically-motivated violence and killings and calls upon the law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in their investigation. The perpetrators of this senseless crime must face the full might of the law.”
He called for calm and urged community members and ANC structures in Kgatelopele to work together with the police to ensure that the perpetrators were apprehended.
Saul also extended condolences to the family and friends of the deceased as well as to the DA and the community.
Cosatu provincial secretary, Anele Gxoyiya, hoped that Baaitjie’s death was not politically motivated.
“The province has always been tolerant of different opinions, where political parties are free to campaign. We trust that the police will speed up the investigation and that the culprits will be brought to book.”
The police have requested anyone with information regarding the incident to contact Detective Warrant Officer Henk van der Merwe at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations on 082 447 1250 and said all information would be treated with the strictest of confidence.
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