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San leader killed in car crash

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'There is more to his death than meets the eye.'

Reverend Mario Mahongo. Picture: Facebook

Relatives and community members were still reeling in shock yesterday following his death, which they believe was a result of foul play.

Some community members, who were wearing ANC T-shirts, were chased away from the gate as they tried to join ANC provincial executive members and a delegation from Sol Plaatje Municipality in paying their last respects to the family yesterday.

Mahongo’s uncle, Antonio Saboa, informed the provincial ANC leaders that his 66-year-old nephew had died because he had been cursed.

“We are very hurt over what happened,” Saboa said.

He also cited unresolved problems and conflict within the Platfontein CPA that could have possibly contributed towards his nephew’s death.

“The ANC knew about these problems. There is much more to his death than meets the eye.”

Mahongo’s granddaughter, Osia Mangumba, said that her grandfather was due to fly to Sweden this week.

“He was on his way to organise his visa at the time of the accident on Saturday at about 6.30pm,” said Mangumba.

“He was driving towards town when the accident took place. It is puzzling that he crashed into the electric pole and was injured on the side of his body. There were no other cars involved in the accident.”

Mangumba was uncertain whether the upcoming CPA meeting would convene on June 18 following the death of her grandfather.

“He was the only one representing the San community, both nationally and abroad. We do not know what will happen to us now that he is gone. He is survived by his wife, three children and many grandchildren.”

Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, said that the Kimberley police were investigating a case of culpable homicide after an accident on the entrance road to Platfontein on Saturday.

“The driver of a Nissan Almera crashed into an electric pole on the side of the road. The driver died on the scene and the exact cause of the accident is under investigation. Anyone with information can contact Detective Sergeant Modise Moshotloa on 082 302 0407. The investigation continues,” said Kock.

ANC provincial chairperson, Zamani Saul, called for calm and urged the community and family to show the late chief the necessary respect.

“We will ensure that his death is properly investigated and will involve the MEC for Agriculture and Land Reform, as he is responsible for the CPA. As the chairperson of the CPA, Mahongo was responsible for improving the lives of the San community. He told us about the difficult conditions that the community is living under,” said Saul.

“It is not necessary for the CPA to fight amongst themselves. We need a strong CPA to ensure that the interests of the San community is advanced in the future.”

Saul stated that everything would be done to ensure that Mahongo was given a dignified funeral.

“He was the father of all of us. We are sorry that we were not able to offer our condolences to his mother, who is in bed as she is not feeling well. Your tears are our tears. His death has left the community wounded and we will do everything possible to lessen the pain.”

Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, who arrived in his Audi Q7 along with a large convoy of blue lights, police and traffic vehicles, expressed his sympathy to the bereaved family.

“We will also assist in ensuring that our chief is buried with the respect that he deserves. We have all lost a great leader,” said Matika.

ANC provincial secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, added that Mahongo’s death was an enormous loss to the ANC as well as the Northern Cape.

COPE MPL Pakes Dikgetsi said that he had learnt with shock and sadness about the tragic death of a personal friend and legendary leader of the !Xun and Khwe community.

“During very difficult times of war between the then South African Defence Force and the liberation movements in South Africa, Angola and Namibia, Mahongo ensured the peaceful relocation of his people to a peaceful environment at Schmidtsdrift. He later secured land and established the present Platfontein settlement that now boasts a school and clinic. He genuinely loved his people and was always the first to speak on their behalf,” said Dikgetsi.

He added that both late president Nelson Mandela and Mahongo worked hard to integrate the community with the rest of South Africa under a constitutional order.

“His legacy of peaceful co-existence, human rights activism and selfless community development must be preserved and taken forward.”

The Premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas, remembered Mahongo as a dear friend, community leader and activist.

“Reverend Mahongo served as the the chairperson of the of the !Xun council of elders, chairperson of the South African San Institute and vice-chair of the South African San Council. He was a carrier of the San’s oral tradition, a veteran performer of traditional stories and co-founder of the Manyeka Arts Trust,” said Lucas.

She added that she would meet with the family to discuss their preparations for the burial.

“His contribution to improving the lives of the San community will be remembered and will form part of the rich legacy he leaves behind.”

Dr David Morris, along with staff and friends of the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, also expressed sadness at the passing of Mahongo.

“Mahongo was a legendary storyteller. He related folklore alongside rock art engravings. His leadership will be greatly missed.”