High court hears appeal in EC ANC ‘conference of corpses’ case

Mhlontlo ANC branch members Eunice Maqhina and Albert Mthotywa Gotya’s names appeared on the list of delegates for the ANC’s 2015 OR Tambo regional conference although they had died three years earlier.

This was the argument by lawyers representing Badanile Mntamo, a disgruntled ANC ward 24 branch member in Mhlontlo municipality, who is fighting to have the outcomes of the conference nullified on the basis that there were irregularities in the buildup to it.

High court hears appeal in Eastern Cape ‘conference of corpses’ case. Picture: STHEPHANIE DE SAKUTIN

The matter was heard at the Mthatha High Court yesterday, where Maqhina and Gotya’s names featured prominently as Mntamo seeks to have the 2015 OR Tambo regional conference, which has been dubbed “the conference of corpses”, set aside.

The Daily Dispatch has previously reported that Mntamo’s legal application was dismissed by the Mthatha High Court in September on the grounds of undue delays.

His application coincided with that of disgruntled Port St Johns ward 8 party member Mlandeli Ndabetha.

Both applications were dismissed by Eastern Cape Judge President Selby Mbenenge, who ruled that the applications were not made within a reasonable time from October 2015.

But Mntamo immediately filed a notice of leave to appeal the decision. His legal counsel, advocate Phillip Zilwa SC, told the three judges hearing the matter – Fatima Dawood, Mandela Makaula and Robert Griffiths – that the membership of two of the delegates from Mhlontlo – Maqhina and Gotya – had been done in 2014.

This was two years after both Maqhina and Gotya died. Both were said to have attended both the branch general meeting and the branch annual general meeting in ward 24 in the April prior to the regional elective conference, which took place around October.

There were also about 66 people who were said to have been part of both meetings but later disputed this, with some saying they were attending funerals and others that were out of town on the day.

Zilwa claimed that all these issues had been brought to the attention of the requisite authorities by Mntamo prior to the regional conference.

He also told the three judges that Mbenenge failed to properly exercise judiciary discretion when the matter came before him in September.

He said the judgment focused only on the time-frames of the legal application and failed to go a step further in testing the weight of the issues raised.

ANC legal representative advocate Ntsikelelo Mtshabe argued the applicant should have submitted a formal condonation application. Judgment was reserved.