IS THIS THE MAN BE­HIND TSH­WANE’S CHAOS?

Af­ter mes­sages cir­cu­late on so­cial me­dia fin­ger­ing Ge­orge Matjila for mas­ter­mind­ing vi­o­lence, Luthuli House calls him in to ex­plain

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

Ge­orge Matjila, the man iden­ti­fied in cir­cu­lated What­sApp mes­sages as the brains be­hind the chaos in Tsh­wane, was sum­moned by the ANC to Luthuli House to ex­plain him­self this week.

Af­ter ANC re­gional chair­per­son Kgosientso Sputla Ramok­gopa and his deputy, Mapiti Mat­sena, Matjila is the third most pow­er­ful politi­cian in the area.

Ac­cord­ing to al­le­ga­tions from his op­po­nents, it is Matjila who was the “mas­ter­mind” be­hind the vi­o­lent protests against the ANC’s choice of Thoko Didiza to re­place Ramok­gopa.

He was called to the ANC’s head­quar­ters in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg this week for an­swers.

“I ex­plained that such things do not ex­ist and I am open to be­ing in­ves­ti­gated,” Matjila says.

“It is lies and pro­pa­ganda spread by my foes in the ANC. It is not peo­ple from out­side. It is peo­ple from the ANC who are threat­ened about my pres­ence,” he says.

A text mes­sage dis­trib­uted this week said Matjila was “head co­or­di­na­tor” in the burn­ing of gov­ern­ment and city build­ings, clos­ing of ex­its and en­trances to all zones and stop­ping po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties as part of a “NoSput­laNoVote” cam­paign.

Matjila, a mem­ber of the Tsh­wane may­oral com­mit­tee, who was seen as Ramok­gopa’s hench­man, re­cently sur­vived ex­pul­sion from the ANC.

The ANC provin­cial dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee un­der Mondli Gun­gubele ex­pelled Matjila from the party in April af­ter he was found guilty of be­ing the “mas­ter­mind” be­hind the dis­rup­tions at the ANC Youth League re­gional con­fer­ence in 2014.

Matjila’s ex­pul­sion could have been the turn­ing point in Ramok­gopa’s cam­paign to re­tain the Tsh­wane may­oral post.

Soon af­ter, signs started emerg­ing that the close re­la­tions be­tween Ramok­gopa and the pow­er­ful Gaut­eng ANC lead­ers were un­der threat.

De­spite the ex­pul­sion, Ramok­gopa kept Matjila in of­fice as mem­ber of the may­oral com­mit­tee for roads, open­ing him­self up to fierce at­tacks from op­po­nents and the for­mal launch of a cam­paign to re­move him as mayor.

But those close to Ramok­gopa say he was right be­cause Matjila had ap­pealed the sanc­tion be­fore the ANC na­tional dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee. In May, the com­mit­tee re­in­stated Matjila.

Matjila says that when peo­ple have ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing against him, they should go to the po­lice.

“You do not cir­cu­late mes­sages with an un­known num­ber and speak in dark cor­ners,” he says.

The peo­ple be­hind the al­le­ga­tions were the same peo­ple who had him ex­pelled, he says.

He has al­ways been loyal to Ramok­gopa “as a leader of the ANC. I was not sup­port­ing him in­di­vid­u­ally, but as a leader. Any leader of the or­gan­i­sa­tion who is elected, I sup­port,” he says.

“But once the ANC makes a de­ci­sion that an­other per­son should be the may­oral can­di­date, I am bound by the con­sti­tu­tion of the ANC to sup­port that in­di­vid­ual,” says Matjila.

Sym­pa­this­ers this week said Matjila had on Wed­nes­day man­aged to calm ten­sions in Ham­man­skraal – his po­lit­i­cal strong­hold – and things were back to nor­mal.

But Matjila’s op­po­nents con­tin­ued to dis­trib­ute what they claimed to be ev­i­dence against him. The ev­i­dence in­cludes pic­tures that pur­port to show a meet­ing that al­legedly hap­pened at a ho­tel in Pretoria.

“The ho­tel was the same place where chaos started and a po­lice car was over­turned in the vicin­ity,” ac­cord­ing to a Tsh­wane youth leader, who is op­posed to both Matjila and Ramok­gopa.

Matjila dis­misses the al­le­ga­tions as “lies”. He says the pic­tures be­ing cir­cu­lated are from Dur­ban, where he went with com­rades to rest.

He says the po­lice have not called him in for ques­tion­ing, but “some com­rades in that pic­ture were phoned and in­ter­viewed”.

State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo this week said the se­cu­rity agen­cies had been cau­tious about how they dealt with in­for­ma­tion that came be­fore them.

“There is an­other thing. If peo­ple are fight­ing among them­selves, they could also try to do char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tions of oth­ers,” said Mahlobo.

QUES­TIONED Ge­orge Matjila

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