Political intolerance in Mokgophong, Limpopo, sank to new depths with an attack on a youth leader at an annual general meeting.
Wisani Sithole, secretary of the ANC youth league's sub-region in the area, was attacked on Easter Monday.
The African National Congress' AGM was held at a local community hall.
It is alleged that tempers flared when Sithole, 26, an outspoken activist in the area, started questioning the credentials of some of the delegates at the meeting.
This after it was discovered that most of the delegates' names did not appear anywhere on the list of members eligible to vote for the sub-regional leadership.
Sithole's attacker, a senior official at the Mokgophong municipality, was also not eligible to vote.
According to sources close to Sowetan in Mokgophong, Sithole and his attacker had not been seeing eye-to-eye for a long time.
It is alleged that during the argument the attacker went to his car, took out a panga and hacked Sithole over the head.
This happened in full view of the public. Sithole allegedly bled profusely and an ambulance had to be called to the scene. He was rushed to Mokopane Hospital, where he was admitted.
Of grave concern are allegations that a local station commissioner, Senior Superintendent Joseph Munyai, was reluctant to arrest the suspect. It is alleged that it was only after the intervention by provincial Police Commissioner Calvin Sengani that the suspect was arrested.
But he was released without even setting foot inside a police cell after allegedly paying R500 bail.
Under normal circumstances the police would have arrested the suspect because of the seriousness of the case.
Asked whether the commissioner's conduct had been appropriate, provincial police spokesman Senior Superintendent Motlafela Mojapelo was noncommittal, saying "the matter will be looked into".
Sowetan visited Sithole in hospital yesterday. He had six stitches in his head
Sithole said he was attacked for insisting that ANC procedures, which allows only branch members into the meeting, be followed.
"One thing for sure is that the person who attacked me is not a member of any branch in our area," Sithole said.
He said his attacker was a manager in Mayor Sarah Lamola's office.
"What is surprising is that a municipal official poked his nose into political issues while he is not a politician," Sithole said said. "If he had a score to settle with me he should have waited for some other time.
"For him to attack me in this way is an indication that he was sent by his masters who have always been after my blood.
Lamola said they had not received a report about the incident by yesterday.