Johannesburg – ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule believes the secretariat of the governing party at its headquarters, Luthuli House, is under siege, which was why his deputy Jessie Duarte’s phone was hacked and one of his staff members was poisoned.
In an interview with Independent Media, Magashule said they knew of efforts to undermine the secretariat of the party, which is considered the engine of the organisation, with the former Free State premier seen as the chief executive.
“There is an intensified effort to undermine and injure the SGO (secretary-general’s office),” Magashule said.
“Not long ago, the deputy secretary general’s (Duarte) social media accounts were hacked; now an employee of the organisation in my office was poisoned. I can confirm that Chris Ackeer, who is a manager in the office, has been poisoned and is currently hospitalised,” he said.
Ackeer, who was reportedly Magashule’s strategic manager at Luthuli House, was released from a Joburg hospital on Friday, two weeks after being admitted.
He was the second person with links to Magashule to have allegedly been poisoned, following that of the head of the Free State Department of Police, Safety and Transport, Sandile Msibi who died in December 2017 after being poisoned.
Last month, the ANC claimed that Duarte’s communication devices had been hacked.
The party said at the time Duarte’s emails and messaging systems were targeted and interfered with.
Magashule was adamant that the incidents showed that the secretary-general’s office was being targeted.
“Obviously, all of this is not coincidental, especially with all the lies reported about me in the media, a month before the elections. There is a machinery against us,” Magashule said.
When asked who or what that machinery was, Magashule said: “We won’t reveal what we know now, but we know.”
Duarte and Ackeer could not be reached for comment.
Magashule has been under scrutiny after journalist and author Pieter-Louis Myburgh published a book, Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture.
The book makes several claims, including that Magashule demanded 10% kickbacks from businesspeople in exchange for securing lucrative contracts. It also questions his Struggle credentials.
Former Free State MEC Mxolisi Dukwana on Friday testified before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that he was offered a bribe by one of the Gupta brothers in the presence of Magashule. Magashule has said he would approach the courts over Dukwana’s testimony and the claims made in Myburgh’s book.
He was dealt a blow when the ANC national executive committee distanced itself from the allegations made in the book, saying he must deal with them on his own.
This was after Luthuli House issued a statement in Magashule’s defence when the book was released. Magashule recently described the publishing of the book as being timed to “deal with” him.
“Deal with the ANC and make sure that they take him out of the ANC. Nobody will do that to me,” Magashule said in an interview with eNCA last week. “There is a well-calculated plan. Let’s leave it. I’m not worried.