Kaunda Selisho
Lifestyle Journalist
6 minute read
6 Aug 2019
1:47 pm

Zille says she ‘did absolutely nothing’ to Credo Mutwa

Kaunda Selisho

A post-apartheid era interview of the sangoma claiming Zille's article got him and his family attacked in the 70s has put her back in the Twitter hot seat.

Former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. Picture: Moneyweb.

A YouTube video posted by a user named Sandile Mshengu in July 2019 and recently shared to Twitter by journalist Pinky Khoabane has placed the spotlight firmly back on former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Helen Zille.

This is because, for years, there have been calls for her to apologise to Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa – a well-known sangoma, author, and sculptor – who claims Zille misquoted him in an apartheid-era Rand Daily Mail article on the Cillie Commission of Inquiry into the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

In the eight-minute clip shared by Mshengu, Mutwa recalls the aforementioned incident with Zille and the events he believed her misquote led to.

According to Mutwa, he was called to testify in his capacity as a municipal supervisor in one of the areas involved in the uprising as a government installation in the area had been demolished in the unrest.

Because anyone who is assumed to be working with the apartheid government by cooperating with the inquiry faces a possible threat of violence, the inquiry’s presiding judge, Judge Cille, declared at the time that the proceedings would take place in-camera and the names of the witnesses would not be published.

“But when the inquiry was on, I noticed reporters at the inquiry in a place where they were not supposed to be. If the inquiry was to be held in-camera, why then were there reporters there?” asked Mutwa during his interview.

“Amongst the reporters was a white woman, Helen Zille… Now, I spoke to the judge answering his questions and then I said to the judge ‘protection for workers in Soweto is completely inadequate. Innocent workers are sometimes beaten up and even killed by the rioting youths. Can’t more protection be supplied to those of our people who are willing to work?’ And this white woman went on to write in the Rand Daily Mail Newspaper that I had said that the army should be called into Soweto to quell the unrest,” explained Mutwa.

He went on to accuse Zille of defying the orders of the judge and breaking the law with impunity by only reporting on his comments despite the things the other witnesses said as well as publishing his name.

Mutwa went on to share the story of how his family was attacked in their Soweto home after Zille’s article was published.

“After that, my home was attacked by 500 or more school children. It happened in September 1976. My wife was raped. My children were beaten and injured, how they managed to escape I don’t know. I was stabbed and stoned many times and when I was lying on the ground completely helpless, petrol was thrown over me,“ recalled Mutwa.

He added: “And that was when I knew fear because we African people believe that if you are burned to death, not only is your body consumed by the flames, but your soul is destroyed as well.”

He said he didn’t exactly recall how he escaped death but he believed that something frightened his attackers because they ran away before they could finish their plan.

Mutwa told the story of how he managed to crawl to a shack nearby for refuge and was saved by an unidentified man who drove away someone else who had shown up with a gun. Mutwa believes he was there to “finish him off.”

His saviour then dragged his injured body to the hut of a sangoma, who hid him under her bed until police were able to pick him up.

“I was covered with wounds and a broken knife was lodged in my body and somebody had tried to cut off these two fingers,” said Mutwa, pointing at the index finger and thumb on his right hand.

“After that, we hid in the backyard of a police station and after that my immediate superior, a white gentleman who is a horticulturist, smuggled me out of Soweto with my family and took me to Natal where I stayed for over a year recovering from my injuries,” added Mutwa.

Zille has repeatedly been asked about this on Twitter since as early as 2011 and most times the questions from random Twitter users have gone unnoticed and unanswered.


Her first documented Twitter response to questions about Mutwa’s claims comes after a recent SAFM interview regarding her latest appointment at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

Zille tweeted: “Thank you @SongezoMabece and @SAfmradio for a follow-up interview last night. The line stayed connected, I was asked tough questions (which are always welcome) and I was given a chance to answer them. Much better.”

To which another Twitter user responded: “Stating that you’re always up for questions, what motivated your interaction with Credo Mutwa?”

“I do not recall having a personal interaction with Credo Mutwa. All I recall was covering his evidence during hearings in the late 1970s. If I am not mistaken, it was the Cillie commission of inquiry into the Soweto uprising. Can’t recall having spoken to him.” tweeted Zille.

She has since been responding to the recent barrage of tweets regarding the matter, rubbishing Mutwa’s claims that proceedings at the inquiry were to be held in-camera and that she only reported on his testimony.

“I reported what he said to a commission of [inquiry]. It is far-fetched in the extreme to accuse any journalist reporting on testimony at a commission of causing someone else to be raped. Who is digging up this kind of bull?” tweeted Zille.

Zille once again used a common phrase that she seems to have become fond of and claims that “offence archaeologists” are digging up anything they can find on her to “generate fake outrage.”

She also does not believe that her article led to the September 1976 attack at Mutwa’s home as he claimed it did.

After multiple attempts to contact Zille for her side of the story, The Citizen was unable to obtain comment from Zille as our calls and messages went unanswered.

Watch Credo retell the story of his attack below:

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