Limpopo businessman Steve Sefofa removes ANC branding from taxis
Pretoria - Limpopo tycoon Steve Sefofa, popularly known as Malo A Botsheba, has seemingly caved in to “political” pressure to remove from his branded-taxis the faces of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and party provincial treasurer Danny Msiza.
This followed a recent public spat between himself and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula also an ANC NEC member over his taxis’ branding.
Mbalula took issue with Sefofa because he regarded his behaviour as “anti-ANC”, especially during a time when the “organisation is bleeding (and) comrades are appearing in court”.
Sefofa’s fleet of taxis were branded with ANC colours and also carried the message, “Hands off” Magashule and Msiza.
He said he felt he was being threatened by Mbalula when he asked him “Wenzani?”
Mbalula last week accused Sefofa of lying in claiming he had made threats against him, saying he asked the question in a WhatsApp message, accompanied by a tweet posted by political analyst Professor Tinyiko Maluleka.
The tweet showed a video in which Sefofa talked about going to war to defend Magashule and Msiza, who are both in trouble with the law.
Msiza is in trouble with the law over allegations of looting the VBS Mutual Bank with 13 others, while Magashule is facing criminal charges linked to a R255 million asbestos contract while he was premier of the Free State.
Sefofa had also vowed to criss-cross the country to mobilise support from ANC branches for the two leaders, who have been ordered by the ANC to step aside pending the outcome of their court cases in line with the party’s recent NEC resolution.
The pair’s squabble was recorded in a conversation, which went public.
Sefofa, also a musician, yesterday told the Pretoria News that he had erased the branding of his own volition and was not pressured by anyone.
He was reacting to suggestions that he took off the branding after he was told to do so by the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco).
He said: “When the Santaco statement came out I had already removed the branding. I am a disciplined person.”
In a tweet, Santaco had distanced itself from the political messaging transmitted on Sefofa’s taxis.
“These taxis and whatever they seek to promote do not represent the view of Santaco or the taxi industry. We strongly condemn this misleading conduct. The matter is receiving attention internally,“ Santaco tweeted.
The taxi council further said, “there is nothing wrong with branding or advertising on taxis by any organisation or business”.
“What we advise against are adverts with messages that seem to position the taxi industry and or its structures right in the middle of internal organisational tension or squabbles.”
Sefofa said Santaco’s statement was not directed at him personally, but ordered that “people should remove these things”.
The taxi council sent out a tweet after it received a letter, dated April 15, penned by the ANC’s legal adviser Krish Naidoo to SA National Taxi Council president Phillip Taaibosch.
In the letter, Naidoo referred to a telephonic discussion with Santaco spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa regarding the issue of branded taxis with ANC colours.
The letter read: “We place on record that the ANC is the beneficial owner of intellectual property of the organisation’s logo. It has been brought to our attention by members of the public in various provinces that taxis, which could be under your jurisdiction or control, are carrying a message with the ANC logo attached to such a message.”
Naidoo wrote that the ANC demanded that “such posters containing the ANC logo be removed without delay as such display, without authority, constitutes a criminal offence in terms of the Trade Marks Act of 1993”.
Taaibosch confirmed receipt of the letter, but quashed suggestions that the taxi council reacted on the basis of the ANC’s communique.
He said the council acted immediately after it learnt about the situation involving Sefofa and Mbalula on Thursday.
“It was not because someone had written a letter to us. We did it out of our own. We have not bowed to any pressure from anybody and we will never bow to pressure from anybody, including a political party.”
Taaibosch said the council’s intervention was “in the interest of our membership in South Africa and it is in the interest of not confusing the public”.
He said no disciplinary action was instituted against Sefofa “because the person who did this is an individual and he has all the rights on his property”. “We were just advising him and thanks very much that he could listen and has taken off those branding from his vehicles.”