December 1 2013 at 07:51am By SHANTI ABOOBAKER AND JAN CRONJE
Cape Town - Controversy surrounds a new political party, the Patriotic Alliance, which not only has convicted fraudsters-turned-businessmen Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene at the helm, but is accused of featuring prominent gangsters in its ranks and is even engaged in an unseemly spat over the recruitment of convicted gang leader Rashied Staggie to its ranks.
McKenzie and Kunene launched the party in Paarl on Saturday, just days after respected gang-busting cop Major-General Jeremy Vearey publicly claimed the alliance was led by members of the notorious 26s numbers prison gang.
McKenzie is the party’s president, and Kunene, who resigned from a leadership position in Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in August, is the secretary-general.
Hitting back at Vearey’s claims on Saturday, McKenzie charged that he’d long outgrown “those numbers”. And while he did still speak to what he termed “so-called gangsters”, he claimed he was only doing so in a bid to promote peace in violence-wracked communities.
“The truth must be spoken… I went to every so-called gang leader and said ‘gentlemen make peace’. We didn’t go to the leaders and say ‘vote for us’,” he said at the launch.
However, several sources believe the highly secretive numbers gangs which dominate South Africa’s prison system are using the Patriotic Alliance and a breakaway faction called the Progressive Alliance to reinvent themselves.
At the Patriotic Alliance launch, all members wore green golf shirts bearing the PA logo, and McKenzie declared: “Today I am very proud to be part of these so-called gangsters.”
On the focus of their new party, McKenzie and Kunene said their attention would be on the Western Cape, specifically its coloured community, which they said had been failed by both the DA and the ANC.
McKenzie had harsh words for the DA: “A coloured person that still votes for the DA has an indescribable love of kissing white a***.”
But neither McKenzie nor Kunene intended running for elected office, they said, and they put up Shirley-Ann Mouton as their candidate for premier.
Vearey, meanwhile, also took a swipe this week at the Progressive Alliance.
This, he said, was led by the 28s prison gang. But its leader Ivan Waldeck, one of known gangster Rashied Staggie’s closest confidantes, was adamant he was a “born-again, reformed gangster”.
Waldeck and Staggie appear to be mounting their own challenge through the Progressive Alliance.
Like Staggie, Waldeck is a convicted criminal, but now presides over the Holy Nation of God International Church, where he is the senior pastor, using the church premises as a gang and drug rehabilitation centre.
Waldeck also alluded to some controversy between the two groupings, claiming that Staggie was the brains behind McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance.
Staggie had been involved in the earliest plans of the political party, with discussions starting when the Hard Livings gang boss was still incarcerated in the Breede River prison.
McKenzie had kind words for Staggie on Saturday, calling him “a changed man”, and he had “kept every word he told us”.
Waldeck claimed he met McKenzie for the first time in September, and discussed their political plans on a drive to a visit to Staggie in prison.
After a pre-launch of the Patriotic Alliance in Cape Town in October, Western Cape police sources said the event was attended by about 250 prominent gangsters, businessmen with underworld links, and even members of the clergy.
Although Waldeck was cagey on Saturday about the political plans for his Progressive Alliance, he said he thought he could play a “major (political) role”.
“It’s our time. They have been abusing us. We are so left behind by those in power. If you look at the prisons, 80 percent of the people there are coloured.
“And Julius Malema said it clearly that his party is for the blacks,” he said.