POLITICAL infighting between ANC factions in Nelson Mandela Bay was behind the torching of four homes in Chatty at the weekend, community members said yesterday.
Chatty residents Noxhanti Ntsomi and Phumla Maliza, who are members of the Greenfields committee, said they were targeted because they support Ward 41 [Chatty] councillor Mbongeni Bungane’s campaign to become deputy regional chairman to mayor Zanoxolo Wayile.
Wayile is expected to challenge incumbent chairman Nceba Faku when the party elects new leadership next weekend.
Ntsomi and Maliza’s houses were burnt down on Thursday and Friday respectively by residents allegedly supporting Faku’s bid for re-election.
Maliza said attempts to convene a branch general meeting (BGM) in Chatty to elect candidates for the ANC elective conference had failed four times already. “Our houses were burnt down by people who don’t want Bungane to stand.”
However, some residents claimed the houses were torched because of allegations that Ntsomi and Maliza were involved in a scam by selling RDP houses in the area.
Ntsomi said: “If they say I’m corrupt then they must show me the proof.”
Recalling the events that led to the burning of their houses, Ntsomi said: “Residents said we should step down from the committee. We did that. We heard there was going to be a peaceful protest on Thursday by residents to deliver a list of people they wanted to serve on the committee.
“But they came here to the community hall and caused chaos. They threw a stone through a glass window which injured a lady standing nearby. They then left. Soon after they left the hall I heard that my house had been set on fire. There was nothing I could save, everything burnt to ashes.”
Phindile Ndlebe, who also served on the committee, was also targeted. His makeshift stand where he sells tripe was torn down by residents during the protest.
But Ntsomi named Ndlebe as one of the people from Faku’s faction. Ndlebe hit back accusing Ntsomi of her alleged involvement in the sale of four RDP houses in the area.
Ndlebe, who had since removed all furniture and valuables from his house, fearing it could be torched, said: “The tension is still high among residents in the area. A lot of chaos will erupt if the councillor doesn’t address the matter urgently.”
Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane’s visit to the area to visit the affected families and address residents was cut short after his team identified a security risk before he could address them.
ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said: “The challenges in Ward 41 relate to service delivery, they are not related to BGMs, because BGMs are only for the general membership of the ANC.
“What we saw on TV were residents protesting against [proper] service delivery and we will treat it that way until we are told otherwise by the ANC branch executive committee.”
Qupe would not comment when a BGM would be convened in Chatty, saying it was an internal organisational process.
He said they would meet officials from the party’s provincial executive committee to try and set up a delegation that would address the residents.