Fresh allegations that former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa was killed for attempting to expose rampant corruption in the Umzimkhulu Local Municipality have been exposed at his funeral in the Southern KwaZulu-Natal town today.
Magaqa (34), who died two weeks ago from injuries sustained in a hit on him and two other councillors from the town in July, was laid to rest amid a heavy security presence in response to raised tensions overs his murder.
The ANC top brass, led by Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize, turned out for the funeral, held on the same sports field where Umzimkhulu speaker Khaya Thobela was buried in May after he too was assassinated.
ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala who, like Mkhize, addressed the funeral, attended along with secretary Super Zuma and most of the provincial executive committee, despite the High Court ruling on Tuesday setting aside the result of the provincial conference that elected them.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu and former ANCYL treasurer Pule Mabe also attended, with Zulu arriving by helicopter about an hour after the proceedings started.
The funeral was divided into three sections, the first and second addressed by the leader of the Methodist Church, to which Magaqa belonged, his family and the Umzimkhulu community. The third was run by the ANC, with Mabe, Zikalala and Mkhize all invoking Magaqa’s name in a call for unity in the governing party.
Family speaker Les Sutha, also a local ANC activist, pulled no punches in his lengthy address, which made leadership uncomfortable as he challenged them to deal with both Magaqa’s killing and the corruption he had fought against.
Magaqa, he said, “did not approve of looting” and would force his comrades in the ANC and council to confront it.
Sutha said Magaqa had blown the whistle about corruption in the upgrade of the Umzimkhulu Memorial Hall, for which an Eastern Cape contractor who is “somebody in council’s brother-in-law” had been paid without doing the job.
Calling on the leadership to assist in dealing with the corruption, Sutha said “we will give you everything you need to prove it.”
We will support you. Please stop these who are killing our people. There are people here who love power too much,’’ Sutha said.
Addressing the thousands of mourners in the marquee, Zikalala said Magaqa’s murder had caused “despondency” in the ANC.
He said Magaqa and his comrades had caused a “strategic shift” in the “very conservative” ANC in 2012 with their campaign for economic transformation which they had started in 2008.
Likewise, the ANC Women’s League if it wanted to end “sexism” in the party, had to “struggle” towards this end, an apparent reference to the campaign to elect Dlamini-Zuma as ANC president in December.
Mkhize, whose address had to be cut short as the marquee was hammered by howling winds, called for unity and told mourners the killers would be found and jailed.
Magaqa died two weeks ago after seemingly having recovered from the bullet wounds he sustained in an ambush in Umzimkhulu in July. A proportional representative councillor for Umzimkhulu since his return from the political wilderness, Magaqa had been vocal about corruption in the Umzimkhulu Muncipality and the Harry Gwala District Municipality under which it falls.
The Hawks said his week they are awaiting the results of ballistics and other tests to see if two alleged cash-in-transit robbers who were shot in a recent foiled heist were involved in his shooting.
Magaqa was shot along with two other ANC councillors, Jabu Mzizi and Nonsikelelo Mafa outside a general dealer in the southern KwaZulu-Natal town.
The attack followed the murder of another ANC councillor, Mdu Shibase in May. Two weeks before Shibase (39) was killed, the speaker of the municipality, Thobela, who was also deputy secretary of the ANC region, was also gunned down.