Nkandla campers ‘a security threat’

Johannesburg –  A security assessment has raised concern about activities outside the Nkandla homestead of former president Jacob Zuma, where “some” armed supporters have been threatening violence should the former statesman be arrested.

Sunday World can reveal that Police Minister Bheki Cele was dispatched to Zuma’s home after information emerged that some of his sympathisers – taxi bosses and their drivers – were armed with illegal weapons.

The situation, according to a source close to President Cyril Ramaphosa, could lead to bloodshed.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Cele was sent to Zuma following the assessment.

“The old man has to be alerted not to be part of the activities that will destabilise the country. Remember that those people in the taxis are using illegal guns. They are happy to mislead him, they are making him look like he is strong,” he said.

“We are not afraid of Zuma’s political support, but of those outside carrying illegal guns and ready to kill.” Zweli Dladla, the co-ordinator of the taxi associations supporting Zuma in KwaZulu-Natal, on Friday said some of their members had already joined uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members camping outside Nkandla.

KWANXAMALALA, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 16: President Jacob Zuma’s home in KwaNxamalala on October 16, 2012 in Nkandla, South Africa. The homestead has under gone an extensive revamp which reportedly cost the taxpayer R203 million. There are also plans for the neighboring city to be upgraded and it will apparently cost R1 Billion. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Cornel van Heerden)

“We have received support from more than 40 taxi associations across the province. Some of the guys are already at Msholozi’s place while the rest of the associations will join this week. We are serious when we say this is war and we are up for it. What I can say to you is that watch the developments in the upcoming weeks. We are saying whoever tries to arrest Zuma, he has to deal with us first,” said Dladla.

It is understood that Cele’s motorcade was blocked by MKMVA members before he was allowed into Zuma’s home, where he raised security concerns about the activities outside the homestead. ANC KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said Cele had informed them about his visit to Zuma.

“uNdosi [a reference to Cele] called me about his intentions to visit the former president and talk to him. I advised him that this was welcomed as part of the ongoing talks that the organisation was having to try to reason with uMsholozi [Zuma].”

Zuma’s homestead has also become a launch pad for the campaign to dislodge Ramaphosa.

This week, a delegation of key ANC regions in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape – which included business people – visited Zuma. ANC leaders in eThekwini, the ANC’s biggest region, Moses Mabhida, Harry Gwala and eMalahleni reportedly went to Nkandla to back Zuma’s defiance of a court order to go to the Zondo Commission.

Mpumalanga regions were led by powerful politician Ngrayi Ngwenya, a heavyweight in ANC Ehlanzeni region.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s supporters sing as they ‘guard’ outside his home in Nkandla. PICTURE: TWITTER

One senior ANC insider who attended the meeting told Sunday World the regions discussed a plethora of issues with Zuma.

“We went to the president to show him our full support and give him strength in his fight against the forces of white monopoly capital. Our meeting was fruitful, and we now know what needs to be done,” he said.

Ramaphosa detractors want to use the party’s national general council in May to test the strength of his leadership.

Mzomuhle Dube, spokesperson for sympathisers and branches aligned to former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, said: “We went there to support Zuma because he is unfairly prosecuted by his own comrades working with external forces. We also believe that a new programme of action must be dra­ ed which will emancipate black people economically.”

Responding to a question on Cele’s deployment, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told Newzroom Afrika on Thursday that the police minister had to make sure there was compliance to law and order, adding “your military gear is worn and all other things … there must be a conversation about how that must be toned down or how that must be stopped because we can’t allow the law of this country to be disrespected irrespective of who you are supporting”.

Former president Jacob Zuma and minister Bheki Cele during their meeting in Nkandla recently. PICTURE: TWITTER

Zuma’s son Edward rubbished assertions that the presence of MKMVA and taxi associations was a security threat.

“The only threat to national security are people who will come to Kwanxamalala to try to arrest Umsholozi. We will kill before he is arrested.”

Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, referred Sunday World to a statement Cele made at the release of the latest crime statistics in Pretoria on Friday.

“We are still having the Marikana [issue], many people believe something could have been done to prevent it. So it was on that score to speak to the former president to raise some concerns that were raised and to hear his concerns and to see where to take those concerns forward,” Cele said.

Additional reporting by Sandile Motha. 

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