The ANC branch secretary in Danielskuil and party secretary of the ZF Mgcawu Region, Zonisele Magawu, 29, appeared in the Postmasburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday in connection with the murder of DA councillor Johannes Baaitjies.
Baaitjies was shot several times shortly before he was supposed to be sworn in as a DA councillor at the Kgatelopele Municipality last week.
He was lured to a business meeting outside Danielskuil before he was shot three times.
Magawu contested Ward 1 during the local government elections but this ward was won by a candidate of the Kgatelopele Community Forum (KCF).
A post on Magawu’s social media page after the elections said that there was “no way that the ANC could have lost this elections in Ward 1. No way and I knew it just from our special votes that we were in the lead. And I got the trick that was used, hahahaha”.
The KCF and DA formed a coalition to take control of the Kgatelopele Municipality, although the inauguration did not take place on Monday after both parties walked out of the council meeting.
The ANC has three seats, the DA two (following the death of Baatjies) and the KCF one.
An administrator will have to be appointed until a by-election can be held on November 9.
Police spokesman, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, said Magawu was charged with the murder of Baatjies on August 19, as well as the attempted murder of his business partner, who is still in a critical condition.
“The case was postponed to August 29 for a formal bail application. The investigation continues while the suspect remains in custody.”
KCF chairman, Norman Prince, who would have been inaugurated as the Kgatelopele municipal mayor, said that they walked out of the council meeting.
“We were prevented from addressing council before proceedings started. We do not wish to be party to a council that has blood on its hands. Baaitjes, who was supposed to have been inaugurated yesterday [Monday], was assassinated in cold blood.
“The opposition-led council was stolen from us through the barrel of a gun. The community will demonstrate outside court and draw up a petition when the bail hearing takes place next week.
“Magagwu must be denied bail because he is facing serious charges and it is an extremely high profile case.”
Prince claimed that he, just like Baaitjies, had also received death threats.
“We have received anonymous phone calls as well as messages that we will be dealt with. If the police do not provide us with security we will report the matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
DA constituency head, Advocate Boitumelo Babuseng, added that the DA walked out of the council meeting in unison with their alliance partner. “The inauguration did not take place because of the assassination of Baaitjies. There will be no council until a by-election is held. No quorum could be formed as only ANC members remained behind in the meeting.”
He added that they had requested the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) to appoint an administrator to oversee the municipality.
“The coalition with the KCF will operate outside the municipality until the by-election is concluded and will reconstitute it at the next council meeting.”
Babuseng indicated that DA members would join in a demonstration at Magawu’s bail hearing next week.
DA provincial chairman, Harold McGluwa, welcomed the arrest and condemned the “lethal political intolerance” displayed.
Spokesman for Coghsta, Xhanti Teki, said that the Kgatelopele Municipality had 14 days in which to establish a council after the inauguration did not take place on Monday.
“MEC Alvin Botes will intervene without hesitation should any party obstruct the administration of the municipality.
“If a municipal council does not have enough members to form a quorum for a meeting, the MEC for local government in the province will appoint one or more administrators to ensure the continued functioning of the municipality.”
He said that the security of councilors fell under the jurisdiction of the South African Police Service.
“Councillors have a right to report any threat to their safety to the police. A detailed report from the municipality is still awaited.”
ANC provincial secretary, Zamani Saul, “noted with regret” the arrest of one of its councillor candidates who contested the local government elections.
“The ANC detests any form of criminality, especially in the political space and is on record to have dealt decisively with matters such as this and will continue to act likewise without fail.”
He indicated that should the allegations leveled against the accused be proven to be true by a court of law, the ANC’s code of conduct for public representatives and its disciplinary code would be applicable immediately.
“The ANC therefore calls for calm in the community to allow the court process to take place.”
Reporting by[Source: IOL]