Traditional leader Chief Livhuwani Matsila.
The abduction and subsequent release of well-known ANC electoral committee secretary and traditional leader Chief Livhuwani Matsila have sent shockwaves through the country. The incident has also raised questions about whether this was an act of pure criminality, a political assault, or related to his chieftainship squabbles back home.
Matsila survived a 20-hour kidnapping ordeal last weekend that started on Sunday (29 October) and only ended on Monday (30 October) after a R50,000 ransom was paid by his friend. This is the third attack on the high-ranking ANC official in recent times.
Narrating his ordeal to Limpopo Mirror, Matsila said that he had been driving home from Sandton to Pretoria. “While driving in Pretoria, I realised that there was a car following me. I could not identify the make of the car, but it just registered in my mind that they wanted to corner me when I got to the gate at my place of residence,” he explained.
“Just as I was still trying to figure out what was happening, suddenly they turned on their blue lights [on the vehicle], and they looked like real VIP-protection personnel. The car they were using was not even marked. They overtook me and stopped abruptly in front of me,” he said.
Matsila said that, at that stage, he had reversed and tried to get away, but that two men in police uniforms had come out of the car. They were wearing bullet-proof vests and were armed. “They forced me into their car, where they ordered me to lie down on the back seat. My hands were tied with cable ties, and I was also blindfolded. They drove away at high speed.”
Matsila explained that he could not figure out in which direction they had driven, but it seemed as if they had stopped at three different places. “In the car, they started asking me questions about my role in the ANC. They threatened me, saying they were going to kill me. They then demanded that I give them a hefty amount of money, promising that if they could get the money, they would consider letting me go unharmed,” Matsila said.
The ordeal ended when he got hold of a friend, who arranged to send the money, so that he could be released. He was finally released on Monday morning at a spot near Hartbeespoort.
Asked how he felt about the incident, Matsila called it the most terrifying moment of his life. “I am still shaking. It was very scary, and I have never experienced something so frightening in my life. There were moments when the men were so ruthless and were determined to kill me. I just thank God for sparing my life,” he said.
As to who could be behind the attacks on him, bearing in mind the internal ANC strife, his chieftainship squabbles, and his being vocal against those implicated in the VBS scandal, Matsila was quick to point out that he suspected his work on the renewal programmes of the organisation might not go down well with certain comrades.
“This could be an attempt to silence us and stop us from continuing to serve the people and carry out the programmes of the organisation. We are not deterred, and we will continue doing our work. We urge the Minister in the Presidency, Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, to make an assessment of the security of officials,” he said.
Date:10 November 2023
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.