‘Bank robber’ tops ANC list
The controversial inclusion of a former bank robber on the ANC’s list of councillor candidates’ for the Buffalo City Metro in the Eastern Cape has raised eyebrows within the party amid his protestation that he was a changed man.
Mkhuseli “Gidla” Nombewu appears high on the ruling party’s proportional representation list of candidates for BCM – at number four.
The list features 45 names – including current mayor Alfred Mtsi and his deputy Xola Pakati.
But in his defence Nombewu said he had paid for his crime and was granted a presidential pardon in 2011.
With a pardon‚ nothing precludes him from occupying office. Effectively his slate becomes clean.
But the Saturday Dispatch could not independently verify this at the time of going to print.
Nombewu told the Saturday Dispatch that those questioning his inclusion on the list were motivated by jealousy.
He made a dramatic claim that his crime was motivated by politics and that it was the late SACP general secretary Chris Hani who instructed him and his comrades to commit the robbery.
Nombewu is a former Umkhonto WeSizwe (MK) operative.
“I am clean‚ if anyone wants me to be vetted they can request for that again.
“Armed activities of MK were suspended and remember this thing was done in the absence of Chris‚” he said.
“Chris called us and said ‘comrades this thing‚ they [the national executive of the ANC] have done it in my absence … in terms of your military underground work and funding‚ there will be no military trained and armed men who will come to me and say they do not have funds to operate because there are funds … there are financial institutions with money lying (there).’ That is what Chris said; it was not only me.
“This thing was an instruction of Chris during suspension of MK armed activities. He said: ‘The ANC has stopped our operations‚ let us arm as many people as possible so that when the negotiations fail we can be able to take up arms’. This is why we were pardoned‚” Nombewu said.
He said he was arrested in 1993.
“We went around accessing money through guns‚ I cannot hide that … some got caught‚ some succeeded. We continued arming our people‚ arming the masses‚” he said.
“So I was caught in King William’s Town and I was sentenced in 1994 to seven years. I served those years then applied for a presidential pardon.
“It was not only me but with many others and Apla comrades and we got pardoned. That is why when I was vetted you could not see a criminal record‚” he said.
Nombewu said he had started on a clean slate.
“I was pardoned by the state‚ I applied for a Presidential pardon. I checked my name even before I went to the vetting my name was clean.
“I would never have passed the vetting if I still had the criminal case. Those people that are telling you that are just playing with their time‚ it’s just a smear campaign. They can go to Pretoria and check. I got the pardon in 2011‚” he said.
But Nombewu’s inclusion has not gone down well with disgruntled ANC members‚ who claim they had been overlooked on the lists‚ in favour of dodgy characters.
On Thursday – the last day of registration for candidates – 26 party members went to the Independent Electoral Offices in Vincent to register as independent candidates.
Outspoken former ANC MPL Joe Jordan – who is currently facing an internal party disciplinary process for his vociferous criticism of the ANC – told the Saturday Dispatch that Nombewu’s inclusion was embarrassing for the ANC.
“That’s a very serious concern. When you vet somebody you immediately pick up a record … you can’t place that person into a position of responsibility‚” he said.
Pardoned or not‚ said Jordan: “that record remains his record. We are saying that record stands.”
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane was not available for comment.
IEC spokeswoman Pearl Ngoza would only say that the commission was still in the process of verifying the names of submitted political party and independent candidates’ lists.
It would only be later this month when the final lists – which will exclude any candidate found to be ineligible – will be published.