Video footage of EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee in a fist fight with a former party member has surfaced, which some have linked to infighting in the organisation’s students command.
Three separate videos have been doing the rounds on social media and among EFF party members, of an incident that occurred in 2018.
They show Gardee arriving at the party’s headquarters and then getting into a heated exchange with two party members, which eventually turns physical.
The party’s treasurer general Leigh-Anne Mathys is also seen in some of the videos, and it appears that Mathys attempts to calm heightened tensions.
In defending his actions, Gardee told News24 that Abednego Mathole, better known as Msholozi in the EFF, was “just being provocative”.
“Msholozi has been declared a persona non-grata at the EFF premises. It’s just very provocative for him to even walk into our premises,” Gardee said.
He added that without audio, no one would really know what took place and would likely make their own conclusions.
Gardee refused to clear up the confusion and instead claimed “silence is golden”.
‘If I was unwanted…’
Last year, Tshepo Goba, an EFF Students Command (EFFSC) leader, who was with Mathole on the day, told Sowetan they decided not to press charges against the EFF secretary general. Mathole and Mathys opted not to comment on the matter.
The EFF’s communications manager, Sixo Gcilishe, told the publication they were not aware of the incident at all.
But Mathole is now ready to speak and said while he wasn’t happy that a video showing an EFF leader being violent has been released into the public domain, he’s relieved party members can finally see what transpired.
Mathole claimed the EFF leadership lied to party members by claiming he was a “rascal” and had gone as far as attacking Gardee.
Mathole, who was kicked out of the party in 2018 as a result, insists he remains a loyal member of the EFF. He said he felt party leader Julius Malema’s utterances to members about his expulsion was just part of the politics of a fierce contestation period.
“When we went to the assembly, Julius Malema used that thing (the fight) and said I can’t contest. He said I expelled myself because I came to the office with Goba and beat up the SG (Gardee),” said Mathole.
In explaining his altercation with Gardee, he claimed the secretary general tried to get him removed from the Braamfontein building which houses the party, but said he refused to leave, explaining that the red berets only occupied two floors in the building.
“If I was unwanted in the EFF, why was the TG (Mathys) coming to me?” he questioned.
Did not want to ’embarrass’ Malema
Mathole felt some in the party were campaigning against Goba, who has his sights set on the upcoming national students’ assembly, where he wants to replace current EFFSC president Peter Keetse.
“When Goba now wants to stand and be the president of the students command he is told no, he is the boy of Msholozi,” said Mathole.
In explaining why he had refused to comment when contacted about the incident last year, Mathole said he did not want to embarrass “Mokone”, referring to Malema.
“It was so painful for us, being told we are not members cause we assaulted SG. We never complained anywhere, never laid charges and said we were assaulted. We never spoke to journalists. We thought of Mokone. It would embarrass Mokone,” he said.
Mathole also claimed the pair believed the matter was an internal one and could be resolved in the party’s top structure, but said he now felt factions had seeped into the movement.
“People who supported me last year are still being labelled, called anarchists because of information claiming we attacked [Gardee],” he said.
Student leadership contestation
Keetse confirmed the EFFSC was due to elect new leadership at the national students’ assembly next month.
He said Goba’s issues with the organisation had nothing to do with Gardee, but with rape allegations going as far back as 2017.
“Goba is not a member of the EFF. The organisation distanced itself from him over rape allegations, it had nothing to with Gardee,” said Keetse.
“Only members can contest,” added Keetse.
Goba rubbished claims that he was facing a rape allegation. He told News24 there was no actual charge or complaint of that nature lodged against him.
“The rape allegations were not proven, there were many of us who had allegations. I was accused of rape and assault. It’s just how people feel, there was nothing,” he insisted.
“Those things are from a long time ago,” he added.
The EFFSC presidential hopeful felt it was “just a witch hunt”, that he was still a member, and disagreed with Keetse’s view. They were preparing to hold their party conference next month, he said.
This is not the first time an EFF leader has been linked to a violent incident.
Deputy president Floyd Shivambu was caught throttling a journalist on the grounds of Parliament last year, and one its MPs, Marshall Dlamini, is currently facing charges of assault after slapping a police officer following the State of the Nation Address in February.
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