EFF leader demoted over theft charges

EFF supporters during one of their gatherings. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

EFF supporters during one of their gatherings. Picture; Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 27, 2023


Johannesburg - The EFF in the North West has axed its former chairperson Betty Diale after she was charged with stealing R700 000 from Road Accident Fund (RAF) beneficiaries while still a practising attorney.

In a letter to the provincial legislature dated February 1, EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini said Diale would be replaced by the party’s deputy provincial chairperson Primrose Bogatsu.

Dlamini did not cite the charges against Diale as the reason for her removal. However, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has indicated that Diale is expected to be back at the Rustenburg Regional Court on Friday (March 3).

NPA North West regional spokesperson Henry Mamothame told the Sunday Independent that Diale is facing six charges of theft, amounting to approximately R700 000, allegedly stolen from RAF claimants.

According to police reports, the Fidelity Fund, which oversees the conduct of attorneys, received several complaints from the RAF claimants, whose payments were deposited into Diale's trust account.

"The claimants alleged that the said money did not reach them after the payout and henceforth reported to the police for investigation. Diale was practising as an attorney during the alleged commission of the crimes between 2009 and 2011 and was subsequently charged with six counts of theft in June 2021,” Mamothame explained.

The Legal Practice Council has since struck Diale off the roll, which prevents her from practising as an attorney. She has indicated to the court that she will be representing herself, and the state has undertaken to provide her with all the necessary documents in preparation for trial.

EFF North West provincial secretary Papiki Babuile said Diale had been replaced as an MPL, but her removal had nothing to do with her criminal trial.

"She was redeployed to the Rustenburg Local Municipality as part of strengthening our caucus,” he said.

Babuile continued: “The case started before the establishment of the EFF, and it has been dragging for all these years. We are allowing the court to deal with the matter, and once concluded, we will pronounce our action.”

Diale said the EFF was restructuring its public representatives when asked why she was removed from the provincial legislature.

"I made way for the deputy chairperson of the province (Bogatsu), who is currently senior to me in the organisation,” she stated. Diale added that processes were still ongoing in the EFF.

"I’m currently serving in the local municipality (and) if it was about the case, I don’t think I would be deployed anywhere pending its finalisation,” she said.

Lutendo Netshitumbi, secretary of the North West provincial legislature, approved the list and declared it compliant with the Electoral Act.