Death threat cam­paign against top ANC women

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA

Two cabinet min­is­ters, a deputy min­is­ter and mav­er­ick ANC MP Makhosi Khoza are liv­ing in fear af­ter be­ing bom­barded with death threats over the past few months.

A high-level gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been launched into threats against Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Ayanda Dlodlo, her deputy Tandi Ma­ham­behlala, So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter and ANC Women’s League president Batha­bile Dlamini, and Khoza.

Po­lice said the same cell­phone num­ber was used for many of the phone calls and SMS threats to the four women, as well as three par­lia­men­tary staff mem­bers.

State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo said this week that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­der way. The threats might be the “work of rogue el­e­ments aim­ing to desta­bilise the coun­try”, he said.

Dlodlo said this week she had re­ceived up to 258 threat­en­ing calls and texts in one day. “This is the work of a very sick per­son,” she told the Sun­day Times.

Some of the threats make ref­er­ence to the Au­gust 8 mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in President Ja­cob Zuma, in which more than 20 ANC MPs are be­lieved to have voted against him.

Khoza, Dlodlo and Dlamini all re­ceived sim­i­lar mes­sages that day, say­ing: “I hope you have voted against the mo­tion. For if you haven’t we will deal with you.” The threats stopped af­ter the vote. While Khoza is a known Zuma critic and Dlodlo’s at­tempts to clean up the SABC have not gone down well with some of the president’s back­ers, it is not clear why Dlamini and Ma­ham­behlala — both staunch Zuma sup­port­ers — would be tar­geted.

On Mon­day, Dlodlo’s house was bro­ken into, an in­ci­dent she sus­pects was re­lated to the threats.

Last Satur­day, po­lice ar­rested a 17-yearold Cape Town woman af­ter one of the phones used to send the death threats was found in her pos­ses­sion. But po­lice sources said they be­lieved the woman, who ap­peared to be “men­tally un­sta­ble”, was be­ing di­rected by po­lit­i­cal forces.

Khoza be­gan get­ting death threats af­ter she pub­licly crit­i­cised Zuma. She was also in favour of a se­cret bal­lot in par­lia­ment dur­ing the mo­tion of no con­fi­dence last month.

The Sun­day Times has seen some of the text mes­sages sent to Dlodlo, Dlamini and Khoza.

One sent to Dlamini on July 8 read: “The beau­ti­ful thing is that you will not die alone. We have Dr Makhosi Khoza, Ayanda Dlodlo and oth­ers whom will die with you. But we are to deal with you guys one by one peace­fully.”

A mes­sage sent to Dlodlo four days later said: “I will find you and I will kill you.” A text sent to Khoza on July 16 said: “You have 18 days be­fore the peo­ple of your coun­try send your fam­ily con­do­lences.”

Khoza, who was the first to go pub­lic about the death threats, told the Sun­day Times she had been re­ceiv­ing them daily for more than a month. “I de­cided to go pub­lic when my daugh­ter started get­ting the threats too. Some­times I would re­ceive more than 50 threat­en­ing calls and sev­eral text mes­sages per day,” she said.

Dlodlo said she had told Zuma about the

threats and sent an of­fi­cial letter to the VIP pro­tec­tion unit. “I opened a case at Nor­wood po­lice sta­tion as well.”

Dlamini’s spokes­woman, Lumka Oliphant, re­ferred ques­tions to the po­lice. Ma­ham­behlala could not be reached for com­ment.

Mahlobo said a high-level in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been launched.

“We are tracing the sig­nals of all the phones used to make these threats and also trying to iden­tity their own­ers,” he said. “We are tak­ing these threats se­ri­ously and hop­ing to make a ma­jor break­through soon.”

But Dlodlo said that since she re­ported the mat­ter on July 12, no­body had come to her house to do a se­cu­rity as­sess­ment.

“This isn’t the first time I re­ceived death threats and had an in­truder break into my house. It hap­pened to me in 2006 when I was still work­ing for the Scor­pi­ons.

“No­body was ar­rested and the case has since dis­ap­peared from SAPS com­put­ers,” Dlodlo said.

Hawks spokesman Hang­wani Mu­laudzi said the teenager ar­rested in Cape Town had used more than 15 un­reg­is­tered sim cards on var­i­ous de­vices.

“There is still a lot that has to be done on this case as we are still busy con­nect­ing the dots,” Mu­laudzi said. “There are lots of po­lit­i­cal spec­u­la­tions but we are po­lice and not politi­cians.”

He said the teenager would be re­ferred for ob­ser­va­tion.

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