The leader of a Western Cape rights movement that has clashed with both the DA and the ANC is in hospital after being shot outside his house on Wednesday night. Police are treating Andile Lili’s shooting as a case of attempted murder, but the Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement are adamant political forces may be behind it, after a week which saw tensions rising with the ANC Western Cape. By REBECCA DAVIS.
On Wednesday night, 39 year-old Andile Lili got into his car outside his house in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. Two gunmen fired four shots into the car, with one bullet hitting his chest area and another his arm. There was apparently no attempt to rob Lili of any possessions.
The timing of the shooting was always going to raise eyebrows. On Thursday morning, Lili was due to lead the Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement in a march on the offices of the ANC Western Cape. There, they were to complain that the group’s attempts to broker cleaning jobs for over 20,000 people with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) were being stymied by the interference of ANC Western Cape secretary Songezo Mjongile.
As the day of the march drew near, tensions had been growing between Ses’khona and the ANC provincial leadership. Earlier in the week, Mjongile had accused Ses’khona leaders Lili and Loyisa Nkohla of having sent him threatening text messages, and warned that ANC members who joined the Ses’khona march could face disciplinary action.
Ses’khona and its leaders have had a turbulent on-off relationship with the ANC in the Western Cape over the past 18 months. Both Nkohla and Lili were originally councillors for the ANC and the City of Cape Town, but a series of ‘poo-flinging’ stunts landed them in hot water. The two men led groups last year that emptied the contents of portable toilets at Cape Town International Airport and the provincial legislature in order to highlight the poor sanitation conditions of the Western Cape’s township-dwellers.
Lili was initially suspended from the ruling party for bringing it into disrepute, while Nkohla – who was already on suspension for having disrupted an event at which President Jacob Zuma spoke – was expelled from the ANC altogether. In late March this year, however, the two were reinstated as fully-fledged members of the ANC due to technical flaws in the disciplinary process – though some wondered whether the proximity to the elections had anything to do with their re-acceptance.
While Lili in particular is a controversial figure that has on more than one occasion been accused of making derogatory statements to Khayelitsha residents, we have previously observed that he appears to have an enthusiastic following. Ses’khona claims to have a membership of over 15,000, largely based in Cape Town’s townships and the Cape Flats, and the group seems to be succeeding in leveraging frustrations both with formal party politics and the inadequate allocation of land, housing, and jobs.
DA leader Helen Zille has repeatedly painted Ses’khona as the militant stooges of the ANC, bent on destabilising the province to pave the way for an ANC victory in the 2016 local government elections in the Western Cape.
But despite the official entente cordiale between the ANC and Ses’khona before the April elections, it has been clear for some time that things are far from rosy between the two bodies. Lili has publically condemned both ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman and secretary Mjongile as “useless leaders”.
Lili told GroundUp in July that the movement had been “disowned” by the ANC, though members still sport T-shirts printed with the image of Zuma’s face.
It is the dispute about the alleged Prasa job scheme that appears to have really stoked the fire. Ses’khona claims that Prasa has promised the group, in conjunction with the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa, 25,000 jobs cleaning the Metrorail network.
“Mjongile has been using his power to stop this project,” Ses’khona spokesperson Sithembile Majova told the Daily Maverick on Thursday.
They claim that Mjongile has been willfully and needlessly obstructionist, phoning and emailing Prasa to instruct the body not to deal with Ses’khona. For his part, Mjongile says that Ses’khona has been fraudulently extorting membership fees of up to R45 from poor people with the promise of future jobs.
The DA-led Western Cape provincial government has made similar claims against Ses’khona.
In July, when residents of Lwandle were controversially evicted from Sanral-owned land just as winter’s first cold snap was beginning to bite, Zille claimed that Ses’khona had fraudulently asked their members to pay a fee to obtain a plot on the Lwandle land.
The provincial government has also collected affidavits from Western Cape residents who allege that they paid money to Ses’khona in exchange for non-existent jobs.
“Ses’khona scammed thousands [of] desperate unemployed people out of R25 promising them jobs that never existed,” DA ward councillor Brett Herron tweeted on Thursday, with a photo of an affidavit from someone who alleged that they had paid R25 to Ses’khona leaders on the understanding that they would be given a Metrorail job with a R2,700 monthly wage a week later.
Ses’khona dismisses these allegations and says that both the DA and the ANC are afraid of the movement’s burgeoning popular support.
Majova told the Daily Maverick that they view the shooting of Lili as an attempt to intimidate Ses’khona. He was speaking on the fringes of the Thursday morning gathering that was supposed to end with a march to the ANC offices, and which was flanked by a heavy police presence.
Majova said that they had decided not to march to the offices because “on principle of keeping the protest peaceful, we will not let our people be exposed as thugs”.
Earlier, Ses’khona group members had been heard singing a song translated as “Songezo [Mjongile] is now trembling in fear, for shooting Andile [Lili]” – leaving no doubt as to whom the movement blames for Lili’s attack.
Majova was insistent that the shooting be viewed as an “attempted assassination”.
“It’s a political thing,” he said. “They vowed to do anything to stop this march.” He claimed that far from Ses’khona sending intimidating SMSes to Mjongile this week, the reverse was true – though he was not willing to disclose the contents of the messages for now to “risk that evidence”.
On Thursday Mjongile warned against making “reckless statements” without evidence of a political motivation to the shooting.
“The ANC condemns the senseless shooting of Lili and we wish him a speedy recovery,” he said. DM
ANC warns against Lili shooting rumours on IOL
The man behind Cape Town’s poo protests – but who does Andile Lili represent? on Daily Maverick
Photo: Andile Lili (Courtesy of EWN)