Man accused of assault in Xolobeni is ANC election candidate

An attempt to mine the Xolobeni coastal dunes by an Australian company was met with the resistance of the communities living in the area.

An ANC candidate in the Xolobeni area has been accused of assaulting four people at the funeral of activist Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe. Ntethelelo Madikizela, accused of assaulting two journalists and two activists in April, is the ANC candidate for the Xolobeni area.
He has denied any involvement in the attacks. Nigel Sibanda and Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni from The Citizen, and Moses Mbuthuma and Luthando Ndovela from the Amadiba Crisis Committee, were attacked during the 2 April funeral of murdered Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, chair of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, an organisation that is strongly opposed to the titanium mining project in the area. An affidavit from Mbuthuma and a statement from Ndovela, together with supporting affidavits from people who arrived on the scene following the attack, were given to the police at a stand the SAPS had set up on 19 July at an imbizo in Xolobeni.

Xolobeni, Eastern Cape, South Africa

In the documents, the activists say that after the funeral they drove into the dunes with the two journalists, who wanted to take photographs of the area to be mined. They say that they were followed by a white truck with four men inside and that the truck turned off the road at Madikizela’s homestead. After this, their own vehicle got stuck and the journalists started taking photographs of the dunes from that point instead of trying to go further. Ndovela alleges that Madikizela suddenly appeared, armed with a knobkerrie. He says that Madikizela then hit Sibanda and entered the car to attack Hlatshaneni.

“He (Madikizela) stuck half of his torso inside the vehicle and I saw him strike her several times in quick succession on her back and then leave her,” he states. Mbuthuma in his affidavit says that Madikizela hit him with a knobkerrie several times and called members of the community to join in the attack. He repeats the allegation that Madikizela attacked both journalists.

Following Madikizela’s calls, a large group approached Mbuthuma, he says: “The attackers started beating and stabbing me, using spears, sticks and stones. While I was being beaten, a group of women were shouting that we should be killed.” He alleges that during the attack his cellphone was destroyed and his leather boots, leather belt and jacket were stolen from him. While the attack was taking place, Ndovela says, he ran from the scene to call for help. He says that after about an hour, the police arrived on the scene and he returned. “I was alarmed to see that they [the police] had not arrested Ntethelelo or any of the attackers, some of whom were still wielding their weapons and threatening to assault me and kill me.” Madikizela has denied being involved in the attack.

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He told GroundUp that he was one of the people who phoned the police and helped those who were being attacked. He said that boys who were herding cows were the actual attackers. But he is also named in affidavits by Nonhle Mbuthuma, also from the Amadiba Crisis Committee, and Siyabonga Ndovela. Nonhle Mbuthuma, who arrived on the scene after the attack, says in her affidavit that Moses Mbuthuma “had a long hack at the top of his head”. She also says that a call was made for her to be killed to which the crowd shouted “Yes!”

This is reiterated by Siyabonga Ndovela who says in his affidavit he arrived on the scene after the attack and heard the crowd shout, “There is Nonhle. Go there and kill her.” The two journalists and the two activists all laid complaints: Moses Mbuthuma, Hlatshaneni and Sibanda at Margate Police Station and Luthando Ndovela at Mzamba police station, for referral to Mpisi police station.

But GroundUp was unable to establish what progress if any has been made in the police investigation. A query to Eastern Cape police, with case numbers obtained by GroundUp, was referred to Mpisi police station. Mpisi station Captain Khaya Tonjeni said that Mbuthuma’s case was still under investigation and no suspect had been arrested. Hlatshaneni’s case had been withdrawn in court. One other case, involving an accused “M. Thethethelo” had also been withdrawn, Tonjeni said. Tonjeni did not respond to other questions about the matter. When GroundUp contacted Hlatshaneni, she said she had not known that her case had been withdrawn. She had not been told by police, she said. Asked about the accusations against an ANC candidate, the secretary general for the ANC in the Alfred Nzo district, which includes Xolobeni, Vukile Mahlelembana, told GroundUp that he had not heard of the 2 April attack and that “nothing was reported to us [ANC]”.