Corruption can be a matter of life and death, as it was for this week’s posthumous hero Moss Phakoe, an ANC councillor who was murdered in 2009 after blowing the whistle on alleged corruption in Rustenburg municipality, North West.
This is a man who most probably thought he was serving the country when he handed his superiors a dossier of corruption and fraud allegations, but was instead gunned down in a deed masterminded by those he was exposing.
This week justice was achieved on Phakoe’s behalf when his killers, former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans and co-accused Enoch Matshaba, were respectively sentenced to 20 years and life in prison.
But it’s disturbing that this hero, who also tried to report the allegations to the highest levels of government, including ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma, was silenced – not heard.
In sentencing Wolmarans and Matshaba, the judge said the two had not shown any remorse, the Sowetan reported.
The judge told Wolmarans: "He [Phakoe] accused you of corruption and that angered you", adding that because the former mayor saw the councillor as an opponent, he planned to have him killed.
Phakoe's family this week expressed relief the trial was over, but said they believed Wolmarans got off too lightly.
"He also deserved a life sentence, Matshaba only followed orders," Phakoe’s eldest daughter Karabo, 30, told the Sowetan.
Rewarded, not punished
Wolmarans is currently Rustenburg municipality’s council speaker and popular in political circles in North West. He also serves in the ANC provincial executive committee and is a close ally of provincial chairperson Supra Mahumapelo, Business Day reported.
Phakoe died in the driveway of his Rustenburg home in March 2009, two days after handing the dossier, implicating the mayor, to former cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister, the late Sicelo Shiceka.
According to IOL News’s account of the court hearing, when the dossier was handed to the minister in Wolmarans’s presence, Phakoe had said that day could be his last.
He also looked at Wolmarans and said: “Hate me, but don’t hurt me.”
But by then Wolmarans and his co-accused were already planning the murder. Phakoe was shot twice in the head by Matshaba while the councillor was sitting in his BMW.
Phakoe’s friend Alfred Motsi, who had helped compile the dossier, said this week that ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had “failed to act on Wolmarans”, when informed about the alleged corruption. They had “proceeded to reward him [Wolmarans] with a job as a speaker in the municipality”, IOL News reported.
Motsi has called for a follow-up on the original dossier.