Mbalula jets out after Xhosa rite

Published Oct 4, 2008


By Mandla Mnyakama and Lynnette Johns

Top ANC member Fikile Mbalula was whisked to Bloemfontein on Tokyo Sexwale's private jet on Friday, a month after he entered circumcision school in Cape Town amid speculation that he had been forced to undergo the Xhosa rite of passage.

Mbalula, 37, spent the month in a bhoma (traditional hut) along Stock Road, Philippi East.

At the time there were claims that he was coerced into attending the initiation school by ANC NEC member Tony Yengeni and others.

This was emphatically denied by the provincial ANC at the time.

Maduma Ngabeni of Gugulethu, the man who circumcised Mbalula, claimed that Mbalula put up a fight when he was taken to the Philippi bush, and had to be overpowered.

In August Mbalula, the former ANC Youth League leader and current ANC national executive committee member, was sent by the ANC's NEC to investigate complaints of serious irregularities in the Western Cape chapter of the party.

On the day he was meant to finalise his report he was met at Cape Town International Airport by Yengeni, instead of the four bodyguards assigned to him by Luthuli House.

After a meeting he and Yengeni went to Gugulethu where they met then ANC provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha. Mbalula was told he was going to circumcision school.

Mbalula reportedly left and tried to flag down a taxi but he was stopped.

He then acquiesced and went to be circumcised.

There was speculation that Yengeni was trying to hush Mbalula up in the run-up to the provincial conference as his findings had confirmed allegations of corruption made by one faction of the provincial party.

He also confirmed the findings of a damning audit report undertaken by the national office.

Because he was in the bush he was unable to attend the provincial conference, at which Skwatsha was elected provincial chairman.

On Friday, almost a month after being circumcised, Mbalula emerged from the bush as an indoda (man) with his head shaved.

The bhoma was set alight according to Xhosa custom.

He was led from the bhoma, enveloped in a blue and white blanket, by nine men, including Yengeni, to a waiting minibus.

The men drove in a convoy of three vehicles to a house in Milnerton where ululating Xhosa women in traditional outfit welcomed him as the vehicle drove into the driveway.

Three men were posted outside the gates of the house to prevent journalists from entering.

Mbalula later left on Sexwale's private plane for Bloemfontein where a big celebration ceremony will be held this weekend.

Related Topics: