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ANC top brass to convene urgent meeting over Free State crisis

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Staff Reporter

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC is set to have an urgent meeting after the party’s provincial conference for the Free State held in 2018 was nullified by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Wednesday.

In a statement, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe called for calm among members in the province as the party studies the judgment before deciding the way forward.

“The National Executive Committee will convene urgently to give direction,” Mabe said in the statement.

“We call on ANC structures in the province to remain disciplined and calm, whilst we study the judgment and its implications for the movement, and in particular the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) elected at the conference,” he added.

In its ruling, the SCA declared the provincial conference unlawful and unconstitutional.

It said the conference held from 18-19 May, 2018 was in violation of a court order given on November 29, 2017.

This means the decisions/resolutions and/or the outcome of the conference are unlawful and unconstitutional.

The court however ruled that decisions made by the PEC before the delivery of the judgment will not be affected.

The matter was brought to the SCA by three disgruntled ANC members, Matshepo Ramakatsa, Themba Mvandaba and Shashapa Joshua Motaung.

The respondents to the matter were listed as members of the ANC in the Free State and the PEC respectively.

The trio wanted the appeal court to declare that the ANC provincial conference that took place on 18 and 19 May, 2018 was held in violation of a High Court order dated November 29, 2017.

They argued that the conference’s decision/resolutions and/or outcome were unlawful and unconstitutional.

The appellants also sought a declaration that the respondents acted in contempt of the High Court order.

The High Court had made an order that the provincial conference should not be held until certain branch general meetings (BGMs) had been held in a lawful manner that accords with the constitution of the ANC.

The members, according to the judgment, had contended that their rights in terms of section 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa had been infringed and that the respondents had breached the provisions of the ANC Constitution and National Guidelines which mirror the ANC Constitution on elections.

The contention by the appellants was that as provided in the ANC guidelines, at the heart of any lawfully convened conference of the ANC, whether at the regional, provincial or national level, is the basic requirement that delegates participating at such gatherings must have been elected at properly constituted BGMs.

The judgment said the rationale behind the contention was that if persons who participated at such a conference as delegates, who had not been elected at properly constituted BMGs, or if delegates who have been elected at properly constituted BGMs are denied such participation in a conference, any decision to hold such conference is invalid and the outcomes of such a conference are equally invalid and null and void.

“At least eight of the 28 BGMs identified in the (High Court) order did not take place lawfully or at all,” read part of the judgment.

“On this basis alone, the (provincial conference) could not lawfully proceed,” the SCA found.

The respondents however argued that the disgruntled members rushed to court before exhausting available internal remedy mechanisms within the party.

It emerged in court that the aggrieved members sent a complaint to that provincial conference but they were ignored.

The respondents’ argument that branch audits were done ahead of the conference could not hold as some had been held more than nine months earlier.

“. . . one must mention that both respondents’ versions are undermined by the attendance registers . . . These attendance registers show that in respect of all branches the last audit was conducted in April 2017,” the SCA found.

“Therefore, the required audit was conducted more than nine months before the (provincial conference) and contrary to the assertion that an audit was conducted during February 2018.

“The failure of the respondents to respond squarely and with sufficient details to allegations made by the appellants, the contradictions between the two versions presented by the respondents, and the effect of the attendance registers leads to the ineluctable conclusion that there has been no compliance with the peremptory audit requirement.”

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Centlec warns cable theft masterminds

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STOLEN . . . Part of the copper cable recovered by the police

Power distribution company Centlec has issued a stern warning to people believed to be hired by unknown individuals or syndicates to steal copper cables from the power lines saying it will not allow them to destroy such key infrastructure and put the country’s economy at risk.

“This is war and we will fight it tooth and nail,” said Centlec in a statement.

“We want to send a strong message to the criminals and their handlers that we will not rest until they are behind bars,” added the company, which distributes electricity to Mangaung and surrounding municipalities.

It said it is aware that most of the criminals are just fronts who are sent by kingpins who then process the copper before selling it.

Centlec warned the kingpins that they would soon face the full might of the law.

“Some of the fronts happen to be vulnerable foreign nationals who are being used to steal our cables by their handlers,” said the company.

A joint operation by Centlec and the police in recent weeks has led to several arrests and the recovery of hundreds of kilogrammes of copper cable destined for scrapyards.

In the latest three incidents, a man was arrested in Botshabelo after being found in possession of copper cable believed to have been stolen.

Several people were also arrested following inspections at two scrapyards in Botshabelo where large amounts of copper were found.

At a scrapyard in Bloemfontein, a man was issued with a fine after he was found with copper weighing 150kg which he failed to account for.

Investigations are still underway to ascertain the real owner of the scrapyard for possible arrest.

“We are worried that many of these scrapyards are becoming a haven for criminals and promoting criminality,” said Centlec chief executive officer Malefane Sekoboto. – Staff Reporter

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Jilted lover up for double murder

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A 30-year-old man will appear in the Viljoenskroon Magistrates Court this Wednesday facing two charges of murder.

Fezile Dabi district police spokesperson Captain Malebo Khosana said the man was arrested for the double murder after he went to his ex-girlfriend’s house at about 4am on Saturday.

“He suspected that the ex-girlfriend was sleeping with the current boyfriend,” said Malebo in a statement.

“Upon . . . arrival at the ex-girlfriend’s home, he stabbed her to death and hit her son with a hammer on the head,” added the police spokesperson.

The suspect then fled the scene.

He is said to have told the police that thought the little boy was the woman’s current boyfriend.

Paramedics were called to the scene and declared both the 34-year-old mother and her 14-year-old son dead on the scene.

The suspect was later arrested after police were tipped of his whereabouts by community members.

The actual motive for the attack is still being investigated. – Staff Reporter

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Killer of businessman Helepi jailed for life

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SLAIN BUSINESSMAN . . . Tavern owner and former footballer Lejoni Alfred Helepi was attacked and fatally shot after taking a shower in his house in Phahameng, Bloemfontein

The man accused of killing Bloemfontein businessman and former Moroka Swallows FC player Lejoni Alfred Helepi in March 2016 has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Free State High Court after being extradited from Lesotho.

Ntsane Togowe, 42, was given an additional 15 years by Judge Pitso Molitsoane on Monday after he was convicted of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Helepi was killed in his bathroom on March 29, 2016 in the robbery which included four other accused persons.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the slain businessman was attacked and fatally shot after taking a shower in his house in Phahameng, Bloemfontein, where he operated a tavern.

The accused took about R40 000 and fled the scene using Helepi’s vehicle.

The vehicle was later found abandoned in Phelindaba.

The high-profile case suffered a major setback in November 2016 when the Bloemfontein Regional Court struck it off the roll after the state failed to secure a trial date at the High Court and finalise investigations “within a reasonable period”.

Togowe and his co-accused, namely Baninzi Gxama Dira Moreenyane, Ntabiseng Clementinah Lempe and Maseboko Alice Majake, had spent about nine months in custody.

Their lawyer, Saintin Seitheisho, successfully argued against further remand saying the state had been given adequate time to finalise their investigations and set a trial date.

The matter was stood down for several hours to allow the state to come back with information on when the case could proceed, but it failed to do so, leaving the presiding officer with no choice but to strike the matter off the court roll and proceed by way of summons.

That decision inadvertently allowed some of the accused to disappear and the police could not find them when the case was supposed resume.

“Togowe handed himself over to the police in 2018, after widespread reports that he was wanted for the murder of Helepi and he was released on bail,” said NPA regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.

Togowe, who is believed to have pulled the trigger on the fateful day, eventually stood trial alone after he was granted bail.

But in October 2018, he mysteriously disappeared from the High Court after the judge briefly adjourned the matter to allow him to deliver judgment in the afternoon.

A warrant was immediately issued for his arrest.

“He allegedly escaped to Lesotho without a passport as it was handed to the investigating officer as part of his bail conditions. He was arrested for robbery in Lesotho on July 27, 2019 and the Hawks, upon knowing his whereabouts, started the process of extraditing him to South Africa. This was successfully done on 8 December 2021,” said Shuping.

In aggravation, state prosecutor Lucky Bontes requested the court to impose harsh punishment on the accused because he failed to show any remorse as he denied being involved in the murder and robbery of the deceased even after his conviction.

“The deceased was killed in the comfort of his own home, after taking a shower and one of the witnesses had to cover his body with a blanket,” said Bontes.

“It was obvious that he was not carrying a weapon but they shot him twice and there was no reason to kill him because they could have just taken whatever they wanted . . .”

Gxama was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in June 2019.

The other three suspects, Moreenyane, Lempe and Majake are still at large.

Police made their first break-through in the matter just a day after the incident when Majake admitted to having planned the robbery with the other four.

Following the arrest of Majake and Lempe, the two women — both employed by Helepi at the time — then assisted the police to find the three men.

Togowe and Gxama are said to have stormed Helepi’s Tavern and demanded cash.

In a well-orchestrated move, the two are said to have held Majake and Lempe hostage in the tavern, yet they part of the robbery scheme.

They went on to demand keys to the safe.

At that point, the court heard, Togowe allegedly went to the bathroom in the house where Helepi was taking a shower and shot him in the upper body.

He collapsed and died on the spot.

The pair then took the cash, Helepi’s gun, three cellphones, house keys and several sets of car keys before fleeing the scene in a bakkie which belonged to the businessman.

They later abandoned it.

Free State Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Navilla Somaru has commended Lesotho police, the Hawks and the prosecutor for their commitment in ensuring that Togowe was brought to book for the murder of Helepi. – Staff Reporter

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