Outspoken African National Congress MP Makhosi Khoza had failed to arrive for her disciplinary hearing by 11am on Sunday, while proceedings were set to start at 9am.
Instead, Khoza’s attorney Smanga Sithini arrived at the ANC provincial headquarters in Durban, the venue for the hearing, 45 minutes after proceedings were set to start. Sithini refused to speak to media and instead rushed into the building, acknowledging he was late.
Three police vehicles were parked outside the ANC headquarters and two street lanes were cordoned off with cones, but besides a strong media contingent there were no demonstrators.
Khoza told the African News Agency (ANA) on Saturday evening via SMS that she would not make the hearing.
“I’m having difficulty with being there at 9am. My attorney will be there. I could not get flights to get me there at 9am,” she said.
Khoza was charged in July for, among other things, ill-discipline, failing to comply with ANC policy, provoking division, and bringing the party into disrepute, with all but one of these relating to posts she made on her Facebook account.
She has been a vehement critic of President Jacob Zuma and his fitness to lead the ANC. Her provocative behaviour has earned Khoza many critics but has also seen her garner a large and sympathetic group of supporters who were posting encouraging messages on her Facebook page on Saturday.
On Friday, Khoza told ANA that she feared being “gunned down” on her way to the disciplinary hearing. Khoza has said publicly that she has received numerous death threats because of her statements, and the life of her daughter has also been threatened.
KwaZulu-Natal has seen so many politically linked killings in the past few years that premier Willies Mchunu established the Moerane Commission of Inquiry in 2016 to probe the violence. The commission has heard testimony from numerous witnesses that the killings are linked to a desire for political positions and greed.
Speaking to ANA outside the headquarters on Sunday, ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said Khoza’s statement that she had been told to attend Sunday’s disciplinary at 3pm was “not accurate”.
“The 3pm related to the pre-trial [on Saturday]. She did not honour that but it is not illegal. The time for the hearing has always been 9am,” said Ntuli.
He said Khoza was aware that the time was 9am and as far as he was aware she was making arrangements to attend.
Provincial disciplinary committee chairwoman Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told journalists that the hearing would continue whether Khoza was present or not. She said Khoza had a right to bring a representative to the proceedings but that person had to be an ANC member.
“If you are not an ANC member you can’t represent. The representative will state [Khoza’s] case and let us know how she pleads,” she said.
Simelane-Zulu said Khoza’s request to have the time changed and the venue moved out of KwaZulu-Natal for safety reasons had not gone via the disciplinary committee but through provincial secretary Super Zuma and national secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Mantashe told ANA on Sunday he turned down Khoza’s request for the hearing to be moved from KwaZulu-Natal because he did not want to “feed into the drama”.
“The ANC head office is a safe place. We did not need to move it to feed into the drama surrounding this case,” he said.
– African News Agency (ANA)