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AGE OF THE ASSASSIN

Killers of Tshwane ANC councillor Tshepo Motaung yet to be arrested, two years later

Killers of Tshwane ANC councillor Tshepo Motaung yet to be arrested, two years later
Murdered Tshwane ANC Councillor Tshepo Motaung. (Photo: X / Elizabeth Thabethe / @DeputyTourism)

‘We used to have faith in the country’s justice system, but it has failed and disappointed us,’ says the wife of the slain ANC councillor.

A few days after Tshepo Motaung, the ANC councillor for Ward 22 in Mabopane, was gunned down in September 2021, Police Minister Bheki Cele told the media that his killers had been identified and would be arrested soon.

“We have the faces of the people we want. We have the names of the people we want. Soon everybody will know why Motaung was killed,” said Cele at the time.

The assassins fired 20 bullets into Motaung on Heritage Day as he returned from an ANC meeting that had selected him as the party’s candidate to run again for the position of Ward 22 councillor. This was in the lead-up to the 2021 municipal elections held on 1 November. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Tshwane metro battleground (Part One): Where violence and intimidation are part of the political arsenal

Cele gave the impression that this was a high-profile case with political motives. Referring to Motaung’s murder during his visit to Mamelodi in 2021, the police minister had revealed that in some instances, gangsters were deciding who would become councillors so that they could benefit from tenders.

Today, a little more than two years after the murder, no one has been arrested. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Tshwane metro battleground (Part Two): A disastrous coalition and promises from contenders

Last month, Daily Maverick asked police spokesperson Lirandzu Themba for an update on the investigation. 

“The task team on political killings is not investigating this particular case. You’ll have to get info from the Gauteng province’s SAPS around the investigation,” said Themba.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brenda Muridili said last Thursday: “This case is still under investigation … no one has been arrested yet.”

Daily Maverick spoke to the murdered councillor’s widow, Kamo Motaung, last week: “He was my everything and losing him made things very difficult for me. He was killed nine days after I had given birth to our baby boy. The fact that no one has been arrested yet for his murder is so hurtful.

“We used to have faith in the country’s justice system but now it has dismally failed and disappointed us as his family.”

She was upset that the police talked to her about her husband’s killing only in September 2023, two years after he was murdered. Councillor Motaung had five children and was 46 years old at the time of his death.

He is one of several ANC councillors to die from a shooting in the Winterveldt area in Tshwane since 2018. There have been no arrests in any of the cases.

In May 2018, Siphiwe Montlha, ANC councillor for Ward 37 in Soshanguve, succumbed to gunshot wounds.

“I feel let down by the ANC… the ANC has failed us as a family. They are not doing anything to ensure that my brother’s killers are arrested,” said Montlha’s sister, who asked not to be named when Daily Maverick spoke to her last week.

“ANC people came to my brother’s funeral and promised us heaven and earth. But they have been ignoring us as a family ever since.

“The ANC doesn’t care that Siphiwe left behind a wife, children, mother, brothers and sisters who were dependent on him for their livelihood. It’s been five years now since my brother’s death and we have not heard anything from the ANC,” she said.

ANC Tshwane regional secretary George Matjila’s response when asked by Daily Maverick about the failure of the police to make arrests in any of these cases was: “This is worrisome. The City of Tshwane has become a capital of death and that should be a concerning matter for all of us.”

The regional chairperson of the SA National Civics Association, Abram Mashishi, said: “Bheki Cele has been lying to the public all along about the imminent arrest of suspects in the murder of councillor Tshepo Motaung. We are calling for Cele’s removal as minister of police as he is just making a lot of noise in the media without any impact.”

Esther Matumane, councillor for Ward 19 in Winterveldt, died after being shot by unknown gunmen in September 2018. Her family did not respond to queries from Daily Maverick. DM

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