The ANC branch deputy chairperson in Ward 23, Pienaar, in Mpumalanga, was shot dead on Friday night outside his home.
Michael Zane Phelembe, 32, is said to have been shot once in the head and the perpetrators fled the scene. His family heard the gunshot and rushed to the gate, where they found him lying on the ground and immediately rushed him to a clinic.
Jealous Nyalunga, the deceased’s friend, said: “I know Zane was killed within the political realm, he has always indicated to us that some people were after his head. Not so long ago he had to hide from home and his car was burnt down.
“He was a selfless leader who stood for principles, and his political enemies clearly did not like that, hence they had him killed.”
According to Nyalunga, Phelembe was a leader who was not enticed by positions and was passionate about the movement.
“He was a leader who led from behind, positions were not his niche. I don’t even understand why his killers were threatened by him. We have really been robbed of a great man. I have served with him in the ANCYL regional executive committee during the era of Julius Malema, he was an intelligent man who stood for nothing but principles and was always laughing,” he added.
The police have confirmed that Phelembe was shot outside his home but later died in hospital after a transfer from the local clinic.
“A case of attempted murder was opened on Friday, which later changed to murder after the victim passed on. At this stage I can’t confirm if it was politically motivated as investigations are still being conducted,” said Lieutenant Jabu Ndubane of the Pienaar police.
ANC secretary for the Ehlanzeni region Petros Pat Ngomane declined to comment.
Plans for the memorial service and funeral will be communicated at a later stage.
In related news, two ANC office bearers were shot at earlier this month in Newcastle’s Madadeni area in KwaZulu-Natal. One of them, ANCYL regional deputy chairperson Wandile Ngubeni, was killed while his companion, ANC eMalahleni regional secretary Mafika Mndebele, was critically wounded.
Police said Madadeni police were investigating a case of murder and attempted murder.
According to a statement released by the ANCYL provincial executive at the time, the attack was carried out by two hitmen who opened fire at “a table of about nine comrades”.
– Caxton News Service