Investigations into Tshwane councillor's killing ongoing as by-election gets underway
While residents of Ward 37 in Soshanguve, Tshwane, queued to cast their vote in a by-election on Wednesday, police were still hunting down the killers of Siphiwe Montlha, who was the ward councillor at the time of his death.
Montlha, who had been ward councillor since 2011, was gunned down in Block GG after attending an ANC meeting in May this year.
Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told News24 on Wednesday that investigations into the murder of Montlha were still ongoing and that no arrests had been made.
"However, police are still following several leads that may lead to the arrest of the perpetrator(s)," Dlamini said.
At the time of the shooting, Dlamini said Montlha had gone to a construction site, where he was accosted by two men. The motive for the attack remains unknown.
Because of Montlha's death, the ward councillor position became vacant and a by-election was called to fill the post.
DA media officer Charity McCord told News24 that the ward had 17 078 registered voters.
During the 2016 local government elections, the ANC won 67% of the votes, followed by the EFF with 23% and the DA with 9%.
As residents streamed in to cast their votes on Wednesday morning, political parties acknowledged Montlha, but said that the "show must go on".
'The show must go on'
Tshwane ANC spokesperson Yabo Bafuze told News24 that they had high hopes of retaining the ward and that they would do so in memory of their fallen comrade.
"We feel saddened by it, almost distraught. We did not anticipate such a terrible event would take place, but the show must go on," Bafuze said.
"We want to keep his memory alive and, in his memory, retain the ward as we did during his tenure."
On their prospects, Bafuze said that the ANC was confident that Ward 37 would be theirs by the end of the day and that they would win by a decisive margin. He added that groundwork had been done through rigorous door-to-door campaigns.
The ANC's candidate is Saki Ntohla.
DA MP and constituency head of Soshanguve, Stevens Mokgalapa, said that it was sad to contest a by-election under these circumstances.
"The circumstances are not motivating or nice, but it’s a job that must be done," said Mokgalapa.
He added that the DA was confident with the voter turnout and that they aimed to increase the party's share of the vote percentage.
Parties all express confidence
"In 2016, we had 9% which translates to about 700 odd votes, and today we are looking for nothing less than 700 and upwards. We are confident with the candidate we have. She is a local woman who was born and bred here and knows the issues."
The DA's candidate is Amanda Noordman.
The EFF in Tshwane believed that they would win the ward with an outright majority.
EFF secretary in Tshwane, Nqobile Mhlongo, said most people who came to vote on Wednesday morning had told the EFF that they had voted for them.
"Even before they vote, they say they are voting for EFF and voting [for] change," said Mhlongo.
Mhlongo conveyed her condolences to the Montlha family, especially to his children, but said that the by-election had to go forward to try and avoid any potential anarchy in the ward if it did not have a competent councillor running it.
The EFF's candidate is Kenneth Manganye.