High court hears ap­peal in ‘con­fer­ence of corpses’ case

Daily Dispatch - - News - By SIKHO NTSHOBANE

MHLONTLO ANC branch mem­bers Eu­nice Maqhina and Al­bert Mtho­tywa Gotya’s names ap­peared on the list of del­e­gates for the ANC’s 2015 OR Tambo re­gional con­fer­ence although they had died three years ear­lier.

This was the ar­gu­ment by lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Badanile Mn­tamo, a dis­grun­tled ANC ward 24 branch mem­ber in Mhlontlo mu­nic­i­pal­ity, who is fight­ing to have the out­comes of the con­fer­ence nul­li­fied on the ba­sis that there were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the buildup to it.

The mat­ter was heard at the Mthatha High Court yes­ter­day, where Maqhina and Gotya’s names fea­tured promi­nently as Mn­tamo seeks to have the 2015 OR Tambo re­gional con­fer­ence, which has been dubbed “the con­fer­ence of corpses”, set aside.

The Daily Dis­patch has pre­vi­ously re­ported that Mn­tamo’s le­gal ap­pli­ca­tion was dis­missed by the Mthatha High Court in Septem­ber on the grounds of un­due de­lays.

His ap­pli­ca­tion co­in­cided with that of dis­grun­tled Port St Johns ward 8 party mem­ber Mlan­deli Nd­abetha.

Both ap­pli­ca­tions were dis­missed by Eastern Cape Judge Pres­i­dent Selby Mbe­nenge, who ruled that the ap­pli­ca­tions were not made within a rea­son­able time from Oc­to­ber 2015.

But Mn­tamo im­me­di­ately filed a no­tice of leave to ap­peal the de­ci­sion. His le­gal coun­sel, ad­vo­cate Phillip Zilwa SC, told the three judges hear­ing the mat­ter – Fa­tima Da­wood, Man­dela Makaula and Robert Grif­fiths – that the mem­ber­ship of two of the del­e­gates from Mhlontlo – Maqhina and Gotya – had been done in 2014.

This was two years af­ter both Maqhina and Gotya died. Both were said to have at­tended both the branch gen­eral meet­ing and the branch an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in ward 24 in the April prior to the re­gional elec­tive con­fer­ence, which took place around Oc­to­ber.

There were also about 66 peo­ple who were said to have been part of both meet­ings but later dis­puted this, with some say­ing they were at­tend­ing fu­ner­als and oth­ers that were out of town on the day.

Zilwa claimed that all these is­sues had been brought to the at­ten­tion of the req­ui­site au­thor­i­ties by Mn­tamo prior to the re­gional con­fer­ence.

He also told the three judges that Mbe­nenge failed to prop­erly ex­er­cise ju­di­ciary dis­cre­tion when the mat­ter came be­fore him in Septem­ber.

He said the judg­ment fo­cused only on the time-frames of the le­gal ap­pli­ca­tion and failed to go a step fur­ther in test­ing the weight of the is­sues raised.

ANC le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive ad­vo­cate Nt­sikelelo Mt­shabe ar­gued the ap­pli­cant should have sub­mit­ted a for­mal con­do­na­tion ap­pli­ca­tion. Judg­ment was re­served. —

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