Why VBS critic has been gunned down in Tubatse

AN ANC councillor who was shot dead outside his home this week, in a suspected political killing, received death threats days before his cold-blood murder, sources said.

According to a local pastor, ANC sources and the South African National Civil Organisation (SANCO), Tubatse/Fetakgomo Municipality councillor Thabang Maupa was warned allegedly by ANC politicians to stop demanding action against VBS looters and beneficiaries or risk death.

The 42 year old father of two was sprayed with bullets outside his liquor restaurant at Ribacross in Burgersfort while reversing his car after he had closed shop. Nothing was taken from the car.

His wife was hit by stray bullets, and is now recovering in hospital, according to Limpopo police. Maupa has been a vocal critic of politicians and Tubatse municipal officials who illegally invested R240 million into VBS. Sources say he had repeatedly called for the resignation of Mayor Chorris Phokane for his role in the VBS scandal.

The poor municipality is one of the seven municipalities in Limpopo that lost a total of R1.2 billion when greedy VBS executives, politicians and municipal officials looted and collapsed the bank. The bank fraud resulted in Tubatse experiencing a liquidity crisis, and failing to pay salaries and service providers in the process. The SA Reserve Bank has successfully applied for a court order to liquidate it.

Pastor Derick Mosoana, the chairperson of Christians of South Africa (COSA), said Maupa had received death threats from ANC leaders as recent as Monday this week, a day before he was ambushed by a lone gun man who ran away on foot after killing him at his Ribacross Village outside Burgersfort.

 Mosoana said that Maupa had told some of his council members he was with on Monday that he would die soon. Little did he know that his time was the same day.

 “This definitely was an assassination. That man was vocal in council and outside council, even on social media platforms about the VBS saga. I’m told that he received death threats at yesterday’s council meeting and that had not stopped him from demanding that the mayor resign in that council,” Mosoana said.

He added that Maupa had spoken on the 19th [last week] in council that the Phokane should speak out. Maupa, added Mosoana, had said that the council couldn’t allow Phokane to remain silent on the VBS looting saga. He had to share what he knew and what he did not know about the looting.

“He got telephonic death threats. They [ANC senior members] were signalling to him that he was playing with fire by entertaining the VBS matter,” Mosoana added. “Yesterday, we thought that they were just applying normal political pressure but when we heard of the news of Thabang’s [Maupa] death around eight yesterday, we knew they meant business.”

The pastor also warned that if the ANC did not act immediately, more lives including his own were in danger.

“Another ANC member was held at gunpoint during a march for speaking out loud and another witnessed gunshots at his family house. Members are at risk now because these people are now serious. As we speak, my life is also in danger. “We are confident that it’s his comrades in the ANC that finally killed him, there is no doubt,” said Masoana.

His sentiment was echoed by Jackson Tsjatji, SANCO’s Tubatse sub-regional chairperson.

“We are very disappointed as the community that Maupa was killed because he was a man of the people. He was working hand in hand with the community. He was fighting corruption and recently we were doing door to door campaigns with him because of elections next year and he was using all his resourced like his car and anything else needed,” Tsjatji said.  

“This was a pure hit; they killed him for fighting corruption. We believe that these people hid a car somewhere and travelled by foot to assassinate him.”

He called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in this matter – if they were to rely on them to help the ANC win next year’s elections.

“If the ANC leadership doesn’t intervene in this matter, because we are close to elections, the people of this community are going to be afraid to vote because we are going to vote against those people involved in the VBS scandal, we are no longer safe. We cannot be silenced because people are dangerous. We are not afraid. Everybody knows that they are going to die at some stage. As long as you die for the truth, which we believe Thabang died for,” he said.

Maupa had spent two years as a councillor at the now administratively run municipality. The Limpopo cabinet placed Tubatse/Fetakgomo under administration two weeks ago.

When African Times visited Maupa’s home on Tuesday, the family was in a sombre mood. Politicians and other mourners were gathered outside the deceased’s home. The family declined to talk to the media, saying they needed space to mourn.

Sekhukhune regional ANC chairperson and district mayor Stan Ramaila refused to speculate on the motive for the killing.

“All we know is that the councillor was locking up the shop last night around 8 o’clock when he was attacked by armed men and by the look of things, it was a hit. But as to what motivated the hit we don’t know,” Ramaila said. “He was a young man that was very energetic and entrepreneurial and active politically. We will leave it to the Police to establish the facts but at the moment we should not rush to any conclusion, and we should leave space to the Police to establish what the cause would have been.”

Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo says they are offering a R50, 000 reward for any information that could result in the arrest and conviction of Maupe’s killer.



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