By: Sello Theletsane
JOHANNESBURG- Carl Niehaus is not taking the tweeted insults by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, that he and Kebby Maphatsoe, the President of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), are ‘thugs’, lightly.
Niehaus, who is the National Spokesperson of MKMVA, announced on Twitter yesterday that he has instructed his attorney to file an urgent application for defamation against Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Niehaus tweeted: “Minister @MbalulaFikile appalling conduct can not go unchallenged. Just concluded a consultation with my attorney. My attorney will now file an urgent application of defamation with the High Court against Minister #Mbalula.”
Mbalula, who is Minister of Transport, apparently took offense to a march lead by the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in Gauteng, on Monday to protest against the destruction of PRASA property because of an absence of proper security arrangements. In their Memorandum that was delivered to the ANC at Luthuli House, MKMVA insisted that Mbalula, as the responsible line function Minister, should be kept responsible for the maladministration that resulted in the sad state of affairs at PRASA.
Apparently taking offense to the claims contained in the MKMVA Memorandum Mbalula responded with a flurry of insulting tweets referring to the marchers as “thugs calling themselves MK”. He also referred to Maphatsoe and Niehaus as “suspected criminals”, referring to Niehaus as a “well known thug employed by Magashule” [Ace Magashule, the Secretary General of the ANC] at Luthuli House. Mbalula also referred to the fact that Maphatsoe had lost an arm, tweeting that, “he lost his hand from cowardice not in a fight against apartheid. COWARD.”
On Monday Niehaus admonished Mbalula for the insulting tweets, and tweeted back to him: “Minister @MbalulaFikile this is enough! You don’t call MK cadres, many of them much older than you, thugs. Some of these cadres are old enough to be your parents. These are cadres who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, yours too, and are suffering neglect & poverty. RESPECT!”. He said that he was addressing Mbalula as an NEC member of MKMVA, and National Spokesperson of the Association, and that he would be derelict in his duties if he does not demand that Mbalula retracts the insulting tweets and apologises to MKMVA. Maphatsoe also weighed in and said that if Mbalula does not apologise for having called MKMVA members “thugs”, he will not be allowed to speak again at ANC events.
Mbalula does not seem to have taken these objections by the MKMVA to heart. Instead, in an interview with NewZroom Afrika a day later, he repeated the same insults again.
When Africa News 24-7 approached Niehaus for comment, he made it clear that MKMVA will not take the statements made by Minister Mbalula laying down. He said that the Minister’s conduct was “totally unacceptable”, and that MKMVA will confront him head-on.
“The Minister must retract his vile tweets, and apologise unconditionally”, Niehaus insisted. He also confirmed that he is proceeding to file an application of defamation with the Gauteng High Court, saying that it is, “high time that Minister Mbalula must be taught a lesson”.