The president of a small, but fast-growing Mpumalanga party is finally going to serve jail time after he was given a 10-year sentence this week for vigilantism-related charges.
Bushbuckridge Residents Association (BRA) president, Delta Mokoena, started serving his sentence on Wednesday when his appeal on his two-year sentence for intimidation failed in the Acornhoek Magistrates’ Court.
Mokoena had been convicted in 2013 of forcing Aaron Zitha (51) to leave his house in Ga-Boelang village near Acornhoek, after claiming that his 18-year-old son was a thief. Mokoena threatened to tell the community to set him and his house alight if he did not leave.
What acted against Mokoena was the fact that he had many similar cases reported against him while awaiting the outcome of the appeal.
The organisation had thrived on vigilantism. It was accused of causing a reign of terror in communities by trying people in kangaroo courts, torturing them on suspicion of being criminals and banishing them from their homes when accused of practising witchcraft and being Satanists.
BRA secretary, Cleopus Maunye, said the party would study the judgment and make a decision over the weekend.
“It’s a tough situation for us,” Maunye said. “We’re still looking at the judgment and after that we’ll have a conference to announce what we’re going to do,” Maunye said.
In 2013, Mokoena was also sentenced to three years for accusing 66-year-old Ranson Mashile of practising witchcraft and setting his house alight. Mashile had to leave his house to sleep in the Acornhoek Police Station since August 19 2012 after his house was torched.
Mokoena had always maintained that all charges against him were politically motivated.
The group was formed by disgruntled ANC members before the 2011 local government elections. The members complained of being marginalised in ANC structures.
The association won one ward in the Bushbuckridge after the 2011 government elections and went on to win one seat in the Mpumalanga legislature in 2014.
In 2016, BRA retained the single ward it won from its maiden election participation and added another four wards. The ANC still won the municipality by 69.46% (53 seats).
BRA clinched 18.09% (14 seats), the Economic Freedom Fighters 5.55% (four seats) and the Democratic Alliance 3.01% (three seats). The party got 2.28% of the provincial vote, up from 1.18% in 2011.