Eric Naki
Political Editor
2 minute read
6 Jun 2020
6:10 am

Death threats force Unemployed People’s Movement leader into hiding

Eric Naki

Speaking from hiding yesterday, Ayanda Kota confirmed that he was forced to flee after being tipped off about a plan to kill him by unknown people.

Members of the Unemployed People’s Movement protest outside the High Court in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) in September 2019. Archive photo: Lucas Nowicki

The UPM was in the news at the beginning of the year as the tiny nongovernmental organisation that challenged the Makana local municipality in court for failing to deliver services – and won.

The David and Goliath battle in January saw the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda order that the municipality be dissolved and put under administration after it failed to provide basic services to residents.

The precedent-setting ruling could see many other municipalities in the province and elsewhere suffer the same fate.

The majority of municipalities in the Eastern Cape are in financial dire straits, while more than half of the councils in North West are under administration.

Speaking from hiding yesterday, Kota confirmed that he was forced to flee after being tipped off about a plan to kill him by unknown people.

“I was warned that I must find a safe place to stay and on the basis of that information, I decided that it was good for me to go under the radar.

“I was told this by a very reliable person from the other side,” Kota said.

He was prepared to stay away from his home at an undisclosed location until his safety was guaranteed.

This is not the first time that Kota and some of his colleagues in the organisation have received death threats.

In 2017, they were warned by the same person that someone had been sent to attack them.

The municipality, which is believed to have already spent R3.5 million in legal fees to defend itself, told the court it would appeal the ruling, but this was denied.

It then petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. That decision is still awaited.

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