ANC members picket during the case of six men, including an ANC councillor, at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court for the murder of another ANC councillor in May. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
Members of the ANC defied the ruling party on Thursday when they turned up at the Pietermaritzburg High Court to support a councillor who is implicated in the murder of a fellow party member, Msawenkosi “Qashana” Mchunu.

The ANC provincial secretary, Mdumiseni Ntuli, had this week announced that the provincial executive committee (PEC) in KwaZulu-Natal banned party members from publicly supporting the accused. He said such action would have a negative impact on the ANC’s reputation.

“For anybody who persists there will be consequences drawn from Rule 25 of the ANC constitution, because when the PEC takes a decision it has to enforce those decisions, otherwise the organisation will be paralysed,” said Ntuli.

The murder accused is Nkosinathi Gambu, a councillor at Msunduzi Municipality Ward 10, where Mchunu was killed in a hail of bullets at his home in May. The co-accused are Skhanyiso Zimu, Sfiso Mbelu, Mlungisi Zimu, Ayanda Ngubane and Gift Zungu. They were arrested last month. The accused appeared before magistrate Ashin Singh to apply for bail.

Mchunu’s supporters also protested outside the court. Ntuli had said that only supporters of murder victims would be allowed to go to court because the ANC should always be on the side of justice “and must always be in favour of the victims”.

A group of police officers maintained a distance of 100m between Mchunu’s supporters, dressed in ANC T-shirts bearing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s face, and the rivals, who were mostly in non-party T-shirts with pictures of Gambu’s face.

Some of the placards displayed read: “Don’t sabotage Gambu. Find guilty people and hands off from innocent Gambu and our brothers #Wenzeni uGambu??”

Supporters of the accused vowed to continue going to court to show support to their comrades.

Menzi Mthethwa said: “We are going to defy this ban because it is unfair. We have to support our comrades because they had nothing to do with the crime.”

Xolani Mkhize said the arrest was a political plot to prevent Gambu from doing his work as ward councillor.

“If we did not believe in these people’s innocence we would not be here to support them,” he said.

The ANC Women’s League secretary in the Moses Mabhida region, Thandi Zungu, called on the PEC to enforce its decision to ban members from supporting murder suspects. “We want the ANC to take action against leaders who are involved in killing comrades.

“The provincial secretary has issued a ban; now we want it enforced because there are people who came to support the accused,” said Zungu.

Political Bureau