Mogwase - Housing problems and the rivalry between the African National Congress (ANC) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Marikana near Rustenburg led to the brutal murder of Sabata Petros Chale.
The North West High Court sitting in Mogwase outside Rustenburg heard on Tuesday, how the volatile political situation in Marikana turned eight none violent men into murderers.
Judge Ronnie Hendricks sentenced Aubrey Seitsang, 39, Sibonile Sobopha, 32, Herbert Baqhesi, 36, William Nyenyane, 33, Samson Gqwetani, 42, Gift Luveli 39, Luvo Soyizwaphi, 32, and Mzolisi Mbulana, 48, 20 years each in prison for killing 39-year-old Chale at Marikana West on December 8, 2016.
The group killed Chale over the allocation of low cost (RDP) houses in Marikana West Phase Two. He was stabbed and hacked to death after a group of about 200 had chased him.
Their lawyer Eric Marx pleaded with the court not to imposed the prescribed life sentence stating that the political conflict between the EFF and the ANC coupled with the housing problems was a time bombed waiting to explode.
"Marikana is a volatile area since the massacre in 2012, there is a political conflict between the EFF and the ANC, the testimony of Mr [Mpumelelo] Xakumbisa that accused four [Herbert Baqhesi] starring at a woman wearing an ANC T-shirt, indicate the animosity between the ANC and EFF, fueled by housing problems."
According to residents the animosity between the ANC and EFF reached boiling points after the EFF won ward 32 in Marikana from the ANC after the 2016 municipal elections.
"During the election of ward committee members, two armed men dressed in ANC regalia attend the meeting, one of them was Sabata, the meeting was disrupted after one man was disarmed. He opened a case at the police, alleging that Sobopha took his firearm, the police went to look for Sobopha and he run away, the police chased him," a resident, who did not want to be identified fearing for his life, said.
This he said let to the men in Marikana Phase Two, also known as Khabangena to go to the Marikana police station to warn the police to enter their area.
"This was at the time the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM] was losing members to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union [Amcu]. Khabangena was and Amcu-EFF area, on their way back from the Marikana police station the man could have 'crossed roads' with Sabata and killed him," he said.
According to him Chale was an enemy because he attended a meeting armed with a gun.
In January 2016, EFF members forcefully occupied over 200 low cost (RDP) houses in Marikana Phase Two, after former North West premier had handed over two houses to pensioners Piet Tlou and Dorah Diremela. The elderly people were kicked out of their houses.
At the time activist Napoleon Webster said ANC was rewarding its members with houses in Marikana.
Chale's mother Joyce Chale who attended the trial said she was happy, she knew who killed her son.
"I am happy to know them because all the time I did not know them while my son was brutally killed. They killed him claiming they do not know him but knew him when they killed him. I am happy," she said outside the court after her son killers were sentenced to 20 years in jail.