The ANC was subjected to a humiliating and embarrassing cold reception by the family of the late MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who died on Monday under mysterious and questionable circumstances.
The jaw-dropping snubbing saw ANC heavyweights, including National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula being chased away from the family home in Cape Town and told to come back some other time by the former minister’s sons.
Police were almost unleashed on Joemat-Pettersson’s eldest son on Monday night, who refused to open the gate for mourners, including the governing party’s members, who wanted to pay their last homage to the fallen politician.
“Tina’s sons read the riot act to their uncle and aunts and the ANC on what will happen moving forward.
“They chased the ANC members away from their home. The eldest son is the problematic one, even on Monday night he refused to open for anyone until he was threatened with arrest,” said a family friend, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal.
Since then, the ANC has been at pains trying to spin its rejection.
According to sources close to the developments, Joemat-Pettersson’s children have adopted a hostile stance against the ANC and its leaders, saying the
organisation contributed to their mother’s tragic death.
It is believed the children suspect foul play as she was about to turn state witness after being interviewed by the police in connection with the much-publicised WhatsApp text messages she allegedly sent to suspended Public Protector’s Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s husband in which she was extorting money on behalf of ANC MPs Pemmy Majodina and Richard Dyantyi.
Majodina, the ANC parliamentary chief whip commands party MPs across their deployment while Dyantyi and Joemat-Pettersson are members of the 194 inquiry established to probe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
Insiders have told this newspaper that the children – Terrence and Austin – demanded total control of the funeral preparations and laid down the law that everyone else must keep their distance.
“The boys on Wednesday agreed on memorial services in Kimberley and Cape Town but they put their foot down about the funeral.
“They want to cremate her alone as kids,” said an informant who was close to the late politician.
“They still maintain they do not want to see the ANC as they believe the ANC killed their mother. There has been all sorts of attempted intervention, including roping in their mother’s friends to calm them down but they are relentless.”
Family spokesperson Andre Joemat said the unbridled animosity the children have displayed against ANC was not in bad faith but out of the shock and “trauma” they suffered from their mother’s untimely death.
He said the unusual behaviour from the boys had to be understood to be triggered by the untimely passing of their mother.
“You see the boys were initially in shock and things were said in shock and trauma, which is so typical [when anyone is in that state of mind].”
Family friends said Terrence and Austin were so angry at the governing party that they cut off all communication between them and Luthuli House.
The family mouthpiece downplayed this, saying the boys had to go for counselling while he and other siblings could assume engagements with the ANC.
“You see the trauma and the shock that the boys were going through, myself and other family members in Cape Town had to engage with the ANC and in Kimberley another sister of mine engaged with ANC that side. The boys needed time to be counselled and they needed some time away and asked for privacy,” said Andre.
ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC was not offended by the rejection as they respected the family’s choice to ask for space and do things privately.
Luthuli House, she said, had made peace that the funeral will be a private cremation as per the wishes of the late MP.
She said: “I am not in a position to confirm the hostility. Testament to that, in all the preparatory meetings I have been part of, including [on Friday], we have had the brother to comrade Tina being a part of all those preparations.
“I am not aware of Sis’ Nosiviwe (Mapisa-Nqakula being hounded away) but I am aware that the sons had asked everyone, including parliamentary representatives, to give them space on the day of comrade Tina’s passing so they can process this thing.”
Joemat-Pettersson’s cause of death has been a subject of controversy the whole week, with her children on Friday confirming that it remained “unknown” while law enforcement agencies are still investigating.
She passed away days after revelations that she, as well as Majodina and Dyantyi, allegedly solicited bribes from Mkhwebane to make the Section 194 inquiry probing her fitness for office disappear.
Bhengu-Motsiri said the ANC was “concerned about a lot of rumour-mongering surrounding the circumstances of comrade Joemat-Pettersson’s passing” and pleaded that authorities must be given space to dig deep and get to the nub of things.
Mapisa-Nqakula did not respond to questions sent to her.