A war of words has erupted on Twitter between Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and MKMVA spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, after the minister accused the latter of being a “thug”.
This happened on Monday after the MKMVA (Mkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association) in Gauteng, supported by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) marched against Mbalula, demanding he be arrested.
They claimed Prasa’s railway infrastructure had collapsed under his watch and, as a result, the many blacks who reliedy on it for transport were suffering.
Sometimes using expletives in some of his tweets, Mbalula singled out Niehaus and Kebby Maphatsoe (MKMVA president) for public ridicule.
“Karl Niehaus is a well known thug employed by Magashule at luthuli house (sic),” Mbalula tweeted as protesters waited outside the Gauteng premier’s offices to deliver a memorandum.
In response to the tweet, Niehaus said Mbalula was trying to undermine the work of the many MK soldiers who fought against the apartheid government.
“The day you are an @MYANC veteran of 42 years, who served 10 years as a political prisoner for my membership of the #ANC & #MK you can dare to talk to me in this tone. You’re not worthy to walk in the old shoes of those MK cadres that you insulted,” he responded.
Mbalula later fired off another tweet when he called Maphatsoe a coward who lost his hand while running away from a military training camp. This was in an apparent reference to the fact that the MKMVA president lost one of his arms when he was shot while trying to flee an ANC camp in Uganda in 1991.
He is recorded as saying the conditions were terrible and wanted to flee to a UN-run refugee office in Kenya so he could be sent to South Africa.
“Kebby Maphatsoe ran away from the camps that is why he’s got one hand, He lost his hand from cowardice not in a fight against apartheid. Coward,” Mbalula tweeted.
In response to Mbalula, Maphatsoe said he would not be intimidated by Mbalula, whom he called a “rumour monger and a factionalist”. He added he had publicly spoken how he lost his arm and that there were witnesses who saw what happened.
“Mbalula is just trying to deviate from the real issues that he destroyed Prasa. He is now bringing in Ace Magashule and Zuma when there is no need for that,” he said.