Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The gloves are off in the barney between Premier Sello Moloto and ANC bigwig Humphrey Mokgobi over the unruly behaviour of party members at memorial services and funerals.

Moloto on Thursday called ANC Youth League members "criminals" at a memorial service for Jones Modjadji in Kgapane near Modjadjiskloof.

He was calling an unruly group to order after they disrupted proceedings by singing anti-Mbeki songs and chanting slogans.

The premier called on the group to stop using functions such as memorial services and funerals as platforms for their personal goals.

He blamed "criminals" who hide beneath ANC T-shirts for tarnishing the party's name.

Moloto said non-ANC members also attended services and funerals and those disruptive elements who sought a platform to woo supporters for their camps should do so elsewhere.

Moloto left the Kgapane Community Hall soon afterwards, followed by youths wearing Community Development Workers T-shirts, but returned later without his "supporters".

ANCYL members who remained in the hall burst into derogatory songs about the premier. A local leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Moloto has been making a habit of "insulting" league members.

"First he insulted the youth league at a conference in Turfloop by saying 'the leadership of the ANCYL in the province was in the hands of the dogs and now he is calling us criminals."

Mopani District executive mayor Humphrey Mokgobi, who is also the ANC's regional chairman, accused Moloto of sheltering a group of youngsters who aimed to "cause confusion".

Moloto distanced himself from the group that followed him outside after his speech. He said he had left the hall to answer a phone call and had returned after he was done.

Moloto, who is also ANC chairman in the province, spoke on behalf of the provincial government, while Mokgobi represented the ANC.Moloto's alleged attack on ANCYL members comes a few days before the league holds its national congress to elect a new leadership.

One of Moloto's critics, ANCYL Limpopo secretary Julius Malema, is contesting the party's presidency.

The contest is believed to be a two-man race between Malema and Saki Mofokeng. This is after the bid by Western Cape's Songezo Mjongile fell through when he failed to get enough nominations.