Saga VBS has claimed its first death after a blatant ANC council member who wanted the party to be responsible for corruption was killed.
Ward member Thabang Maupa, 42, from Ward 5 in Fetakgomo Tubatse, local Municipality, Limpopo, and his wife were ambushed on Monday night by unknown gunmen who shot them in their car.
His wife, 40, suffered injuries but Maupa died on the scene. It is widely believed that his death was linked to his public criticism of the ANC and Mayor of Maudu Phokane, whose municipalities lost around R280 million invested with VBS which is now dead.
Police spokesman Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the incident occurred around 19.30 after Maupa arrived at the family restaurant business to help his wife lock.
"After closing, the couple were still in the car when unknown suspects on foot suddenly started firing shots at their vehicles. The deceased was beaten several times and died at the scene. The motive for murder is unknown at this stage, but the police have opened murder cases and attempted murder.
"The police offer gifts of up to R50 000 for valuable information that can lead to arrest and conviction," Mojapelo said.
Now there is growing concern that Maupa's murder will lead to another attack on other ANC members who have been vocal about the involvement of the municipality in VBS. The problem is said to have caused divisions among party members in the Burgersfort region.
"This is the beginning of an onslaught. If the ANC does not take action, it will dig new graves for its members because the others will retaliate. There have been several attacks on a group of council members who oppose VBS, "said Father Derick Mosoana, Christian president in South Africa (Cosa) who lives in the area.
"Maupa is one of several council members who criticizes the ANC and the mayor openly. He uses meetings and social media to voice his concerns.
For the past few weeks he has been threatened with death. He was killed after a council meeting in which he again called for decisive action to be taken against his senior politicians involved in the VBS Scandal.
The VBS problem is too deep in this area because even during the municipal staff meeting protested and blocked the entrance to the meeting place because they had not received their November salary because the board went bankrupt, "Mosoana said.
A senior ANC member stressed that the VBS problem had created friction among party members.
"Some people who want the VBS problem are swept under the carpet and that we must continue. But we cannot do it because the ANC-led municipalities are implied – our grandmothers have lost their level of money because of looting at VBS.
"We now have these two factions at the ANC," said the party member.
However, ANC regional secretary Gary Maseko said there were many possible reasons for the attack on Maupa.
"It would be too early to relate it to something specific because Sekhukhune is a very unstable mining area where crime is very high.
"We must submit this to the police for investigation.
"The ANC has taken the decision that there must be consequences for all managers involved in illegal transactions in VBS issues and this will include suspension of key financial officials and city managers," Maseko said.