Exclusionary Fabcos election turns nasty

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Senior members of the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services (Fabcos) nearly exchanged blows at the organisation's Mpumalanga provincial executive committee elections yesterday.

This was after Fabcos president Sam Buthelezi allegedly instructed his close associates to bar Mpumalanga members from entering the hall in which the conference was to take place at the Umuzi Lodge in Secunda.

Pandemonium first broke out when a Mpumalanga eastern highveld district sheriff, Olkert Els, attempted to issue a summons to Mpumalanga Fabcos chairman, and national deputy president, Sam Lot Sibiya, barring him from entering the hall.

Sibiya refused to accept the summons saying it should be issued at his residence. Els left and later returned with about five tough cops.

The cops could also not manage to convince Sibiya to take the summons leading to the sheriff to put the documents on the ground in front of him.

A white security boss tried to stop Sibiya from entering the hall, but an angry Sibiya said to him: "You are a white man and your people have been dividing us blacks for many decades so you still believe it is not enough? Get out of my way."

Members from Mpumalanga got very angry when they discovered that only card-carrying members would be allowed to enter the conference venue.

Secunda police and members of Stop-Thief Security and the Pretoria-based Boikagong Security company were also deployed to the scene to observe and control the tense situation.

The delegates pushed each other in a bid to gain access into the hall where Buthelezi and other senior national office bearers helped the security guards to close doors.

But members of the organisation who had brought proof of having paid-up membership cards were initially allowed to get in but later refused because they could not produce green South African identity documents.

Fabcos members who refused to be identified for fear of victimisation told Sowetan that Buthelezi wanted the elections to remain secret so that only people close to him could be elected.

They also accused him of mismanaging billions of rands within Fabcos, an organisation said to be the richest black-owned body in the country.

Sibiya refused to be interviewed.

At the time of going to press it was still not clear if the elections inside the hall took place or not.

Buthelezi could not be reached for comment.