A conference on small and medium enterprises hosted by the department of telecommunications & postal services was thrown into disarray on Tuesday after police were called in to remove the president of one of the factions of a warring grouping of black industrialists interested in South Africa’s multibillion-rand digital television migration project.
Amid allegations of guns being openly displayed and of harassment, police were called in to remove Keith Thabo, the president of one of the factions of Namec, from the conference after claims that he and his bodyguards intimated the leadership of the rival Namec faction, led by secretary general Adil Nchabeleng.
Professor Kunene, the deputy secretary general of the Namec faction led by Nchabeleng, claims Thabo came to the conference on Monday with the “sole purpose of intimidating the true leadership of Namec”.
He says Thabo’s “empowerment raiders” came into the Birchwood Conference Centre on the East Rand with “huge armed Nigerian bodyguards”.
In text messages sent to TechCentral, Nchabeleng claims Thabo’s men intimidated the Namec representatives. “They [police] found ammunition and loaded guns on them. The SAPS has opened [a] case.”
Describing Thabo’s men as “hit squad”, Nchabeleng says they acted like the “state security VIP protection service”.
“They were using a VIP protection car with a blue light,” he says.
Thabo tells TechCentral he is not aware of any incident and declines to comment further.
At the conference on Monday, Nchabeleng’s Namec disputed Thabo’s leadership of the body.
Thabo was meant to speak at the conference on Monday, on behalf of Namec. However, he was removed from the programme after conference director Mashilo Boloka was made aware that the leadership of Namec had written to telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele in September last year following the split with Thabo.
Kunene claims that the department of telecoms has recognised Namec — the one led by Nchabeleng — as the true representative of the organisation. “We reported this matter to the minister as these guys are crooks. They came here to silence our voices.”
Kunene says small and medium enterprises represented at the conference argued strongly in favour of the use of encryption in government-subsidised TV set-top boxes in order to protect the local manufacturing industry. He says this will be published in a report still to be released by the department. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media