By Barbara Hollands
THE often violent political intrigue that has beset much of South Africa has now reared its ugly head in the Eastern Cape where a town councillor has made astonishing allegations of a sinister plot to kill him by political rivals.
Evan “Boeta” van Heerden, an independent councillor in the Karoo town of Hofmeyr, near Cradock, said he feared for his life after learning of two foiled plots to kill him.
Van Heerden, 42, who was elected as ward councillor of the town, claimed that two sets of hitmen were hired – allegedly by the town’s ANC mayor and his cronies – to shoot him.
And, adding to the intrigue, a DA chairman in Hofmeyr was allegedly number two on the hit list.
The allegations have been strengthened by a recording, which is in Weekend Post’s possession, taped secretly during a meeting with the second hitman, in which a man called “Aubrey” implicates Mayor Khaya Nqiqi in the murder plot.
Tsolwana Municipality mayor Nqiqi, who was found guilty of assaulting an elderly woman in February, has vehemently denied playing any part in the alleged assassination scheme.
“I don’t do such things. I don’t go to people to ask them to kill others. That is not constitutional,” Nqiqi said.
Speaking exclusively to Weekend Post, Van Heerden said the first hit was foiled because the two murderers for hire decided the R5 000 deposit on the hit was not enough, while the second potential hitman warned Van Heerden’s wife about the plot.
Van Heerden claimed some ANC officials in the municipality were disgruntled when he was elected as ward councillor in the local government elections in May last year.
He first heard he had been targeted by killers when fellow Hofmeyr resident and DA chairman Vuyisile “Jomo” Blom, 29, was told by two strangers that they had been hired to kill the Hofmeyr councillor for R20 000.
Blom had met the men in order to buy a spare car part from them in Tarkastad.
“When they heard I was from Hofmeyr, they said they had a job to do there and when I asked what that was, they said a group of people gave them a R5 000 deposit to shoot the ANC councillor there. I knew there was no ANC councillor in Hofmeyr so I asked them to describe the man,” Blom said.
He said he immediately knew from their description that Van Heerden was the target. “He is the only big coloured guy who drives a black Navara bakkie in Hofmeyr.”
When Van Heerden heard of the plot, he set up a meeting with the hitmen in Zola Township in Tarkastad, which was also attended by Blom.
“I felt protected by God when I went to meet them. They had spent two days watching me, but decided the R5 000 deposit they received was not enough. They told me who hired them and the mayor was one of them.”
Blom was equally rattled when the men told him he was “second on the list”.
“They said I was to be removed because I give Boeta [political] advice,” he said.
Van Heerden said shortly after reporting the matter to the police, a man called Aubrey had approached his wife and told her of another alleged attempt to kill him.
Shortly thereafter, he came across Aubrey and thanked him for tipping off his wife.
“He said there was more [to tell] and I gave him a lift to my home and we sat in my kitchen and I secretly taped what he said on my BlackBerry. He said the mayor wanted me out but that he couldn’t kill me because we were involved in soccer together.”
Van Heerden said he then confronted Nqiqi.
“I met him in my office at the Hofmeyr Town Hall and played the recording to him.
“He told me to report the matter to the police station, which I had already done.”
In denying the alleged plots, Nqiqi said he had “accepted” Van Heerden and worked with him on a daily basis.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Cynthia Nkamba said a charge of conspiracy to murder had been opened at the Hofmeyr police station and was being investigated.
This is a version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday July 7 2012.