Kimberley – A Northern Cape councillor was shot dead during an apparent assassination because of his involvement in several land claim disputes.
Tueloetsi Tshipo went missing last Monday after travelling to Vryburg in the North West to buy petrol, which he then would have sold to the community in the Dithakong village.
Tshipo, who was a Cope councillor in the Joe Morolong Municipality in Kuruman, was shot and killed on the N14 highway near Vryburg.
His uncle, John Bodike, on Sunday told the DFA that they had discovered Tshipo’s body after his wife called to say that he did not return home after going to Vryburg.
“Tshipo left in his bakkie to buy petrol at the petrol station in Vryburg on Monday. He usually sold the petrol to community members because there is no petrol station in the Dithakong village,” Bodike said.
“He, however, never returned home. His wife later called me and told me that he never returned home. I, his younger brother and his wife went to look for him and found his body next to the road (N14).”
According to Bodike, Tshipo was shot in the neck and also had visible injuries to his face.
Tshipo’s bakkie was later discovered parked at the Vryburg police station.
“When we went to inform the police about his death, we saw that his bakkie was parked at the police station. The police officers at the station could not tell us who had left the bakkie there or how it got there.
“The keys of the bakkie and the Tshipo’s cellphone were left inside the vehicle. The only thing that was missing was the SIM card of his phone,” he said.
It is also unclear whether Tshipo was killed on his way home after returning from the petrol station or before reaching Vryburg.
“We did not find any petrol on the back of bakkie and, as far as we know, he went to Vryburg to buy petrol. He may have been killed before he reached the petrol station.”
The family believes his murder was an assassination.
“Tshipo was very outspoken about matters affecting the community. He always used to fight for fairness for the community and this angered many people.
“There is an ongoing land claims matter whereby he was trying to help the community secure land and that matter is currently before the court. Even that case has resulted in him making enemies because he fought for what is right.
“The community has had some success, with the help of Tshipo, in claiming land and has also been compensated for land they have lost. It was a great success for the community, but not everyone was happy about what he did,” his uncle said.
“Tshipo always believed in fairness and he was not afraid to fight for what was right.”
Bodike said they are hoping that his nephew’s killers would be brought to justice soon.
“He was a good person who had the interests of the community at heart. This has not only shocked us as a family but has touched the entire community. We are all saddened by his murder and hope that whoever is responsible will soon be caught. Our hearts are broken for losing such a strong pillar in the family and the community,” he said.
Cope in the Northern Cape on Sunday expressed shock and sadness following the incident.
The deputy provincial chairman of the party, Katiba Mowembo, said they hope those responsible will be caught.
“We sympathise with the family and hope the police will soon give us an answer on who was responsible.
“Tshipo was highly respected by the community he served and always carried their burdens. He represented the party well and was a councillor whom one could depend on,” Mowembo said.
Acting police commissioner in the North West Major-General Jacob Tsumane condemned the murder.
“This appears to be an act of an organised criminal group that has no value to life. My team will work around the clock to bring the perpetrators to book,” Tsumane said.
The police in the North West said no arrests have been made yet and they are investigating the matter.