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Ba-Phalaborwa - Senior ANC members in Ba-Phalaborwa, Limpopo, have been accused of folding their arms while a party member assaulted a woman following protests in the area.

Among those accused of failing to act while the alleged assault took place are the party’s national spokesperson Pule Mabe, Ba-Phalaborwa mayor and regional chairperson Pule Shai, and council speaker Miriam Malatji.

Matozi Choma claimed ANC member Edmond Mbetse assaulted her. She told The Sunday Independent he was with other party members and none of them lifted a finger to help her or stop him. “Edmond came with people from the ANC following a strike in the area where rocks were used to block the road.

“He claimed that I was among the people who put the rocks on the road. He then proceeded to beat me up. There were a lot of people there but none of them stopped him,” she said. Choma alleged Mbetse threatened to kill her if she attempted to open a case against him. “Afterwards, he told me that if I opened a case he would kill me. I was intimidated by the threats and I have been scared to go to the police,” she said.

Those who witnessed the alleged attack are apparently afraid to speak out about the incident. A man who asked not to be named said he was “not ready to be a witness”.

But those accused of folding their arms while Choma was attacked have denied the allegations. However, their accounts contain contradictory elements. Shai claimed he was not present when the alleged attack took place. He said he was only contacted at a later stage and informed about the incident.

“They don’t even know where the incident allegedly happened. They called me and said he (Mbetse) had assaulted someone but I didn’t know (about it). I said if he did so in the name of the organisation, they can come see,” he said.

Choma, however, disputed Shai’s version of events. She said Shai said he would look into the matter. “They still have not come back to apologise,” she said.

Mabe denied the allegation that he was present during the alleged assault but confirmed he was in the area to attend a meeting, where discussions were held on the reopening of the road that was blocked. “I know nothing about this. If they have a case they must report it to the police and not involve us. They want to take it to the newspapers and they are mentioning people who have a national currency,” said Mabe.

Mbetse denied laying a hand on Choma. He admitted to confronting her for alleging placing rocks on the road after they had been removed. He claimed that when they confronted her, she started insulting them. Mbetse said he would never hit a woman and people could attest to the fact that he never laid a hand on Choma.

Sunday Independent