Members of uMkhonto We Sizwe Military Veteran’s Association (MKMVA) disrupted a speech by ANC chair Gwede Mantashe at the funeral of military stalwart Kebby Maphatsoe yesterday – dressed in full camouflage of the former ANC military wing.
The members came toyi-toying onto the stage in the church hall of Protea Glen Soweto and sang freedom songs.
At least one was seen wielding a firearm.
Mantashe, who was one of a few ANC speakers that Maphatsoe had personally invited to speak at his funeral, was about to conclude his address when the uniformed MKMVA members disrupted his address.
One of the members in green overalls wielded a gun as the group toyi-toyied in front of the stage.
Even the MC of the event was unable to control or stop them from singing and toyi-toying onto the stage.
Some were shouting abuse as they were being ushered out towards the entrance.
The group ultimately left but fired several gun shots outside as they left the venue. It is not customary to fire random shots at an MK member’s funeral except the usual blank shots fired at graveside.
Ironically the disruption happened as mourners were enjoying Mantashe’s humorous anecdotes about Maphatsoe.
The mood was light and there was laughter. The disruption appeared to be unprovoked.
As he resumed his speech, Mantashe said the disruption was indicative that there was something wrong in the ANC.
He insisted on continuing to speak because “I was invited by Kebby because he wanted me to speak here. It’s an honour to me.”
“It tells you the shape of the ANC, we have a duty to correct it. We need to fix the ANC so that it is tight and appreciates [when others speak],” Mantashe said.
Mantashe, who belonged to the Ramaphosa faction of the ANC, is one of the outspoken leaders against ANC factionalism.
The Ramaphosa camp is at loggerheads with Jacob Zuma’s radical economic transformation (RET) faction of which the MKMVA forms a part.
The two camps have differed sharply on issues like the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), but agreed on the need for land expropriation without compensation.
Maphatsoe, a former MK cadre who had received military training in the former Soviet Union, former East Germany and Angola, passed away this week due to a heart attack.
Mantashe said Maphatsoe was opposed to disbanding of MKMVA, but supported the unification of the association and the MK National Council into one structure of veterans.