Councillor cops it for 'keeping peace'

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

A councillor in Mpumalanga has spent a night in police custody after he used a car and loud-hailer belonging to the Thembisile-Hani municipality without permission.

Moshe Moekwa, of Vezubuhle in KwaMhlanga, was arrested on Saturday. He was released on Sunday after paying R500 bail.

He appeared in the KwaMhlanga magistrate's court on Monday charged with assault and unlawful use of the municipal car without permission. The case was postponed to next month for further investigation.

Local executive mayor, Victor Nkosi, confirmed that charges had been laid and that "no politicians have the right to drive council vehicles".

"They are provided with a vehicle, driver and loud-hailer and we use the hailer for community issues only," said Nkosi.

He said the matter would also be dealt with internally.

Nkosi said he was also questioning why the local chief had closed a church in the area.

It all started on Thursday when Moekwa tried to intervene in the ongoing conflict in the local Zion Christian Church, where members were calling for the expulsion of resident pastor, Josiah Kekana, and two of his junior pastors.

The congregation demanded that Kekana refund them the R7800 paid for a bus that was turned back by security guards at the church's headquarters in Moria, Limpopo, two weeks ago.

The disgruntled members, some of whom were opposed to Kekana's alleged continued criticism of initiation, told Sowetan that the security at Moria had acted on his instructions not to allow the bus in for the important weekend service.

Following the problems that at one stage had divided the church into two, the local traditional leader, Chief Makerana Mabena, made a decision to close the church until an amicable solution was reached.

"I applied for the use of the municipal loud-hailer on Thursday morning to invite residents to an urgent meeting at 2pm that afternoon.

"The meeting was aimed at stopping a march by angry the residents on Kekana's property to present their demands to him that afternoon," said Moekwa.

He said the driver of the car with the loud-hailer had arrived at 2.55pm but still wanted to go to "do something" at Mandela village before he could broadcast the meeting which by then had already been delayed to 4pm.

He described the situation at the time as highly volatile, and to avoid chaos in the area he took over the steering wheel and drove from street to street, to invite people to the meeting.

Moekwa said the meeting resolved that he and other local leaders should present their demands to Kekana that day.

He denied that he had assaulted the driver of the municipal car.

"After the meeting I kept the car safely parked in my garage.

"I was surprised when the police came to arrest me on Saturday," said Moekwa.