Meet Juju’s ‘chief enforcer’

2011-09-04 10:00
Piet Rampedi
The son of an unemployed mother and a former railway worker, the “general” who masterminded this week’s violent ANC Youth League march in the Joburg CBD was born and bred in Julius Malema’s hometown of Seshego, in Limpopo.

Widely seen as Malema’s chief enforcer, Jacob Lebogo (28) is the firebrand youth leader’s childhood friend and the duo have been inseparable ever since, according to locals, their associates and fellow youth leaders.

Together with other Malema allies, Lebogo had criminal charges brought against him two years ago in connection with the attack on a political rival.

City Press reported in 2009 that hours after campaigning against candidates endorsed by Malema for the Capricorn regional ANC leadership, Matlala Maremane’s car was forced off the road by another vehicle at night, after which he was kicked and hit with bricks.

In short, Lebogo is to Malema’s political interests what Lesiba Gwangwa is to his business interests – a trusted and close confidant.

They live five houses away from one another in Seshego Zone One. Their relatives are said to be close, especially Lebogo’s mother and Malema’s grandmother.

Lebogo and Malema attended the same primary and high schools and cut their political teeth in the Congress of South African Students (Cosas). Later, both led the same league in Limpopo as provincial secretaries.

Lebogo failed his matric in 2001. He later enrolled through a private institution and passed the following year.

Lebogo joined Cosas in 1997 and was elected the organisation’s treasurer in Seshego three years later.

In 2001, he took over as Cosas provincial secretary but resigned halfway through his term, allegedly blaming Malema’s leadership style. Malema was Cosas president.

“When he resigned, he said Julius was a dictator and a self-centred person who is greedy and thinking for himself,” said a former Cosas leader.

Former Cosas leaders said a copy of Lebogo’s scathing resignation letter was forwarded to Emmanuel Mdawu, then Cosas general secretary, but Mdawu this week said he could not recall receiving it.

“He may have written it, but I have no recollection of receiving such a letter unless people who worked in my office at the time withheld it from me,” Mdawu said.

Lebogo re-joined the youth movement in 2002 and was introduced to Cassel Mathale, then newly elected provincial ANC secretary and now Limpopo premier.

“That is when the campaign to have Julius as provincial secretary at the Makhado conference was launched. Lebogo became part of the campaign and when Julius won, he dissolved the Capricorn region for opposing his candidacy and Lebogo and Clifford (Motsepe) took over as part of the interim structure,” another youth leader said.

The subsequent conference elected Lebogo as deputy regional secretary and later secretary.

Malema is believed to have had a hand in Lebogo’s rise to power. Former youth leaders said Malema installed Lebogo as chair of the learners representative council when he (Malema) left the position to take over as Cosas president in 2001.

He later “imposed” him as Cosas provincial secretary.

Youth leaders added that Malema later paved the way for Lebogo’s elevation to the position of Capricorn youth league regional secretary by convincing Mosa Chabane, considered a front-runner, not to contest in exchange for co-option into the league’s provincial executive committee.

City Press reported in 2009 that Malema and former Limpopo league chairperson Lehlogonolo Masoga had fallen out because Masoga opposed Malema’s attempt to impose Lebogo as the league’s deputy provincial secretary, with the view that he would take over as secretary when Goodman Mitileni’s term expired.

It was part of Malema’s provincial youth league succession plan when he left the province after his election as president at the 2008 Mangaung conference.

Although Masoga’s supporters blocked the move, Lebogo took over last May at the chaotic Makhado conference, whose results were disputed after Masoga’s supporters walked away. Voting took place only after Malema took over the proceedings.

Like Malema, Lebogo has bought a string of luxury cars and properties since being elected provincial secretary – including a Mercedes ML 500 worth R840 000 and a Jeep Grand Cherokee STR8 valued at about R600 000.

Lebogo did not return calls and SMSes sent to him for comment.