SUNDAY TIMES - Truman Prince: 'The ANC will crumble without me in Beaufort West' (audio)
Sunday Times News By NASHIRA DAVIDS, 2016-02-07 00:05:00.0

Truman Prince: 'The ANC will crumble without me in Beaufort West' (audio)

Truman Prince at the training facility with his football club in Beaufort West on 3 February 2016.
Image: Esa Alexander

Standing on a pavement a few blocks from Truman Avenue in Prince Valley, the beleaguered mayor of Beaufort West spews vitriol at the ANC.

Truman Prince believes the party is plotting to oust him and others - including Western Cape leader Marius Fransman - from their positions.

"Zuma can do with me what he wants," Prince says. But he warns that without him, the ANC will crumble at the country's oldest municipality.

His latest brush with controversy involves claims that he assaulted a female traffic officer and asked that contracts be awarded to contractors "sympathetic to and having a relationship with the ANC".

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has called for an investigation, but Prince, a former biblical studies teacher, is adamant that he did nothing wrong.

"I did not write the letter but I am willing and prepared to pay the repercussions of the letter because I signed the letter," he said.

"I am not afraid of anyone. If the ANC wants to sideline me, I don't care. If God is with me, who can be against me? The ANC has never contacted me. I just see newspaper reports from Gwede [saying] 'Truman Prince cannot talk on behalf of the ANC'. But he is lying. We are all deployees of the ANC.

"And this area is my jurisdiction. We are the crown of the creation ... If God looks after the birds in the field, he will also look after the crown of his creation. I am not afraid. Perhaps I will be suspended tomorrow, but then all hell breaks loose."

In 2005, the ANC suspended him as a member and municipal manager when he was caught on camera allegedly soliciting sex from teenage girls. He was cleared and reinstated.

Previously he has been charged with reckless driving and faced allegations of assault.

Yet to many he is a messiah.

Prince says the community is united behind him because he helps everyone - whites, blacks, coloureds.

But he is frustrated by the high rate of unemployment in the municipality, which stands at 42%, and says the youth are ready to revolt.

Children plays in a play park in Prince Valley in Beaufort West, which was named after Truman Prince. Image: Esa Alexander

Even his sister, who did not want to be named, is unemployed.

"I could have given her a job. And this little one," he says, pointing to a teenager walking into his childhood home where his mother, Winnie Prince, a former domestic worker, still lives.

"She is in the top 10 [in matric] and she can't even go to university. I have helped others get jobs, but I can't give my family jobs. I should have been a minister in the ANC."

A cloud of smoke engulfs his mother's stoep as Prince lights up yet another cigarette. His 88-year-old mother watches TV in the lounge, unmoved by her son's tirade.

Truman Prince with his 88-yearold mother, Winnie, in Rustdene, Beaufort West. Image: Esa Alexander

Prince's sister says their mother used to be hurt by the attacks on him and often sat in the small garden praying for the wellbeing and safety of her son, whom she named after US president Harry S Truman.

"My political consciousness started in the toilet of a white man. I had to sit in the toilet and clean the shoes. A lot of shoes. I thought: 'This is mos f**king k*k,'" he says.

"I wanted to play on the grass. My mother would scream: 'Jy kan nie! [You can't]' I said: 'F**k, what is going to happen? I am going to play on the grass.'"

Prince says he has suffered for his political convictions and was shot in 1999. He lifts his shirt and points to where a colostomy bag had been.

Mayor of Beaufort West, Truman Prince show his scar where he was shot, on 3 February 2016. Image: Esa Alexander

"Then I was in exile. I had to go to Namibia. I taught there [but] no one recognises me as an exile."

His sister adds: "And when they show the people who struggled in the ANC, have you ever seen a hotnot? Never, ever."

Prince continues: "Dulcie September isn't even there ... The ANC's m**r man."

Many Prince Valley residents support the mayor.

"He is a good man," says Robert Julius. "He helped me get a house. I get electricity for free, I get water."

Alroy Speelman, 13, says: "When I lived on the streets, he helped with money and food. He gives us a R20 every morning."

Lizzy Dassie with her son Eugene Dassie in Prince Vallay named after mayor of Beaufort West, Truman Prince, on 3 February 2016. Image: Esa Alexander

But Sydney van Eck, who lives in the suburbs, feels Prince could do more to reduce the crime rate.

Windy Plaatjies, ANC central Karoo regional secretary, says he shares Prince's sentiment that contractors do little for job creation in their "grant-stricken" community.

"But we never said to apply for money on behalf of the ANC. If we want donations we do it out of the ANC office ... After a long, quiet and beautiful tenure that we had with no scandals, this thing has shocked the ANC. It has shocked the community and it ... can be a dividing factor."