Residents want men accused of killing whistle-blowers to be denied bail

Limpopo activists jaded after lack of arrests in political killings

Residents of the Mogalakwena local municipality in Limpopo want men accused of killing whistle-blowers Valtyn Kekana and Ralph Kanyane not to be given bail in the upcoming court case.
Residents of the Mogalakwena local municipality in Limpopo want men accused of killing whistle-blowers Valtyn Kekana and Ralph Kanyane not to be given bail in the upcoming court case.

Residents under the Mogalakwena local municipality in Limpopo are looking to an upcoming bail application judgment to restore their hope for justice after a dark history of political hits in the area.

Community members in the area attended the bail application hearing of Jabulane Mashamaite and James Chuma, who stand accused of killing whistle-blowers Valtyn Kekana, 54, and Ralph Kanyane, 32.

Mashamaite and Chuma are among four people facing charges in relation to this case. Their co-accused, Samuel Seruputlane and Frans Mangadi, have opted not to apply for bail. The court is set to deliver judgment on the bail application on July 25.

On Monday, community members who have been calling for the accused not to get bail, gathered outside the court building. Baba Selomo from the SACP in Govan Mbeki district said the matter was a painful reminder of other cases involving political activists who were murdered.

“We have stated from day one that we are opposing bail. As activists of Mogalakwena we have been experiencing political killings with no arrests. So this is what we have been waiting for,” Selomo said.

Selomo referred to the cases of Mogalakwena Residents Association leader Piet Pale, who was shot and killed near his home in Mahwelereng in 2014. He was regarded as being strongly opposed to corruption. In 2006 the municipality’s former chief whip, Leka Lekalakala, was also killed.

“What made it so unsafe is corruption and access to capital that is meant to serve the community. When you are a political activist who exposes corruption, you remain a target to those who want access to the municipality’s loot,” Selomo said.

Community leader Tebogo Rasitseba said they hoped this case would not end like previous cases. “After the arrests we told ourselves as the community that we will not rest until justice is served,” Rasitseba said.

During court proceedings, defence lawyer Ngoako Seabela – for Mashamaite – said his client’s health condition was one of the compelling reasons he should be released on bail. Seabela also said Mashamaite was a businessman whose incarceration would disadvantage families who relied on his car dealership for employment.

Seabela also tore into the state’s case, saying they had presented weak evidence before the court.

Prosecutor Calvin Chauke said one of the defence lawyers had tried to persuade a witness not to testify in the case.

People in the public gallery reacted with shock when Chauke alleged that Seabela was the lawyer who had tried to sway a key witness. Chauke said the witness, who is yet to testify, was Seabela’s client in a separate rape matter.

He said he had avoided revealing this before the court as he felt it should be a separate matter where Seabela has to answer for allegedly defeating the ends of justice.

Seabela fired back by saying that he was being set up and made to look unethical. “Your worship, I will try to remain calm but I am emotional,” he said.

Seabela did not deny that he had represented the witness in a rape case, but said he was unaware that the individual was also involved in the matter before the court.

Seabela blamed the prosecution for not revealing the identity of the witness, while claiming that he had voice recordings to prove his innocence.

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