Masi ac­cused speaks at Pa­gad rally

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CARYN DOL­LEY

THE Masi­phumelele com­mu­nity leader ac­cused of driv­ing mob jus­tice at­tacks and vi­o­lent protests has joined forces with the con­tro­ver­sial group Pa­gad.

Luba­balo Vellem, 35, who faces crim­i­nal charges in­clud­ing mur­der, joined the group on an anti-drug march in Parow a week ago.

Pa­gad, formed in 1996, was first known for its vig­i­lante cam­paigns against al­leged drug deal­ers.

At the event last week Vellem, who is out on bail af­ter an ap­pear­ance in the Si­mon’s Town Mag­is­trate’s Court last month, told Pa­gad he and his co-lead­ers had de­cided to act be­cause po­lice were not do­ing their jobs in the in­for­mal set­tle­ment.

This week Vellem said he would sup­port fu­ture Pa­gad events. “I will do more. I don’t see any­thing wrong.”

Vellem said he had been in­vited to ad­dress last week’s Pa­gad march.

But Pa­gad says it was not a for­mal in­vi­ta­tion and any “sin­cere res­i­dent” would have been given an op­por­tu­nity to speak.

Af­ter the march last week, Vellem made a speech over a loud­speaker. In a video of the speech, posted on Pa­gad’s Face­book page, he and a few friends from Masi­phumelele were for­mally wel­comed by a Pa­gad mem­ber and Vellem was ap­plauded as he pre­pared to speak.

He told the crowd: “What we did on Septem­ber 15, but it ac­tu­ally started on Septem­ber 9, was be­cause of the lack of po­lice.”

This week Pa­gad leader Ha­roon Or­rie said mem­bers had been in con­tact with Vellem for a while. “I can’t say for how long, but even from be­fore the prob­lems (at Masi­phumelele) flared up.”

He said Vellem had “by chance” ar­rived at Satur­day’s event, to which a num­ber of res­i­dents had been in­vited. Vellem’s speech had been im­promptu. “It was a pub­lic event… It’s a plat­form for peo­ple to speak.”

Vellem, a head of the Masi­phumelele Back­yarders and In­for­mal Set­tle­ment Fo­rum, faces charges of mur­der, at­tempted mur­der, as­sault with the in­tent to do griev­ous bod­ily harm and in­cit­ing pub­lic vi­o­lence.

His ar­rest saw more than 1 000 res­i­dents go on a ram­page to de­mand his re­lease from cus­tody. The case against him is post­poned to next year.

AD­DRESS: Luba­balo Vellem, a Masi­phumelele com­mu­nity leader ac­cused of in­cit­ing vi­o­lent mob at­tacks and protests, speaks at a Pa­gad march in Parow. Vellem, who is out on bail, plans to sup­port more Pa­gad events.

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