Death threat campaign against top ANC women
Two cabinet ministers, a deputy minister and maverick ANC MP Makhosi Khoza are living in fear after being bombarded with death threats over the past few months.
A high-level government investigation has been launched into threats against Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, her deputy Tandi Mahambehlala, Social Development Minister and ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini, and Khoza.
Police said the same cellphone number was used for many of the phone calls and SMS threats to the four women, as well as three parliamentary staff members.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo said this week that an investigation was under way. The threats might be the "work of rogue elements aiming to destabilise the country", he said.
Dlodlo said this week she had received up to 258 threatening calls and texts in one day. "This is the work of a very sick person," she told the Sunday Times.
Some of the threats make reference to the August 8 motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, in which more than 20 ANC MPs are believed to have voted against him.
Khoza, Dlodlo and Dlamini all received similar messages that day, saying: "I hope you have voted against the motion. For if you haven't we will deal with you."
The threats stopped after the vote.
While Khoza is a known Zuma critic and Dlodlo's attempts to clean up the SABC have not gone down well with some of the president's backers, it is not clear why Dlamini and Mahambehlala - both staunch Zuma supporters - would be targeted.
This is the work of a very sick personAyanda Dlodlo, Minister of Communications
On Monday, Dlodlo's house was broken into, an incident she suspects was related to the threats.
Last Saturday, police arrested a 17-year-old Cape Town woman after one of the phones used to send the death threats was found in her possession. But police sources said they believed the woman, who appeared to be "mentally unstable", was being directed by political forces.
Khoza began getting death threats after she publicly criticised Zuma. She was also in favour of a secret ballot in parliament during the motion of no confidence last month.
The Sunday Times has seen some of the text messages sent to Dlodlo, Dlamini and Khoza.
One sent to Dlamini on July 8 read: "The beautiful thing is that you will not die alone. We have Dr Makhosi Khoza, Ayanda Dlodlo and others whom will die with you. But we are to deal with you guys one by one peacefully."
A message sent to Dlodlo four days later said: "I will find you and I will kill you." A text sent to Khoza on July 16 said: "You have 18 days before the people of your country send your family condolences."
Khoza, who was the first to go public about the death threats, told the Sunday Times she had been receiving them daily for more than a month. "I decided to go public when my daughter started getting the threats too. Sometimes I would receive more than 50 threatening calls and several text messages per day," she said.
Dlodlo said she had told Zuma about the threats and sent an official letter to the VIP protection unit. "I opened a case at Norwood police station as well."
Dlamini's spokeswoman, Lumka Oliphant, referred questions to the police. Mahambehlala could not be reached for comment.
Mahlobo said a high-level investigation had been launched.
"We are tracing the signals of all the phones used to make these threats and also trying to identity their owners," he said. "We are taking these threats seriously and hoping to make a major breakthrough soon."
But Dlodlo said that since she reported the matter on July 12, nobody had come to her house to do a security assessment.
"This isn't the first time I received death threats and had an intruder break into my house. It happened to me in 2006 when I was still working for the Scorpions.
"Nobody was arrested and the case has since disappeared from SAPS computers," Dlodlo said.
Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the teenager arrested in Cape Town had used more than 15 unregistered sim cards on various devices.
"There is still a lot that has to be done on this case as we are still busy connecting the dots," Mulaudzi said. "There are lots of political speculations but we are police and not politicians."
He said the teenager would be referred for observation.