Punch-up as feuding factions clash
THE Inkwanca municipal council has been dissolved leaving the mayor and five councillors without jobs.
Eastern Cape cooperative governance and traditional affairs (CoGTA) MEC Fikile Xasa made the announcement to a packed community hall in Molteno yesterday.The Inkwanca municipality encompasses the towns of Molteno and Sterkstroom and falls under the Chris Hani district municipality.
This was the first time the Phumulo Masualle-led provincial government has carried out this type of action against a municipality.
Cogta spokesman Mamnkeli Ngam said: “A special cabinet meeting in Bhisho on Wednesday approved the implementation of Section 139 (1) (c) at Inkwanca local municipality.”
Inkwanca has been stripped of executive powers for 12 months and Xasa told residents that an administrator would take control of administrative and financial affairs on Monday.
Yesterday, about 300 supporters of dismissed mayor Mthandazo Qamngwana clashed with about 100 Molteno civic and ANC members, townspeople and farmers in Sterkstroom.
Qamngwana did not take calls, but former Inkwanca DA councillor Magda Botha said former Inkwanca ANC chief whip Gladys Lufele had telephoned Xasa and warned him to go straight to Molteno.
“I was standing at the municipality waiting for the MEC delegation. While the Molteno people were walking and singing peacefully, people stormed out of shops where they were hiding and from side-streets,” said Botha.
“They had pangas and traditional weapons, and were throwing very large rocks, and swinging their weapons. I saw someone hit with a knobkerrie. The Molteno people ran away.
“I never saw a stone in the hand of anyone from Molteno. The people who were armed were the supporters of the mayor.”
Police were called in to separate the clashing sides and Botha and Molteno Farmers’ Association leader Meyburgh Erasmus said rubber bullets were fired.
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said: “As the governing party, we did everything in our power to prevail over our deployees, who persistently defied us and government.
“We were confronted with high levels of ill discipline, anarchy of highest order, contrary to what we deployed them to do in Inkwanca.
“That council divided people of Inkwanca, a direct contrast to their constitutional mandate and ANC objectives. People of Inkwanca deserve better treatment than what our deployees did.”
Mabuyane said the ANC would select credible candidates to contest fresh elections.
“All our deployees must note this as an indication that we will act against anyone or any council that wastes time on senseless issues and not delivery,” he said.
DA provincial leader Athol Trollip said: “We have been advocating for this action for almost a year.
“We have raised this in parliament, the legislature and all other avenues available for action to be taken.”
He called for a new council to be elected within 12 months.
Trollip blamed former Cogta MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane for the collapse of Inkwanca, saying: “Qoboshiyane dragged his feet while this municipality was disintegrating in front of him. He could not act as those were his comrades.”
Botha said: “Even though this means I’ll be losing my job as a councillor I support it. The council was totally dysfunctional.”
Erasmus said of the clash: “All shareholders were invited. We went down the street singing and being very peaceful and then a violent crowd appeared carrying sticks, axes, cricket bats and a hand gun.
“They threw us with stones [sic]. We could not protect ourselves and the police were unprepared. Five of our people were hit with stones and sticks, and some with rubber bullets. It was a bad situation. We had to withdraw to Molteno.”
Inkwanca senior housing development officer Thembelani Ndevana, 49, said: “A man I know came up and gave me a klap. They came at me. I turned and ran and a stone hit me in the back between my shoulders.”
Mandy Aucamp, owner of Roxi’s Art and Coffee shop in Molteno, said: “People with axes and stones are throwing stuff at us. There are hundreds of them.”