20/12/2016 18:23 SAST | Updated 21/12/2016 06:30 SAST

A Marikana Activist Is Convinced The Hawks Are Being Used To Fight The ANC's Battles There

It's harassment and political manipulation, says activist about a ward councillor's arrest. No, it's legitimate crime-fighting, say Hawks.

Skyler Reid / Reuters
A township resident walks past Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.

A Marikana activist has accused the Hawks of kidnapping a local ward councillor and torturing him.

Community and cultural activist Napoleon Webster said the elite crime-fighting unit has been harassing community members recently.

"They have arrested our councillor Phillip Mntombi. Last week they kidnapped Aubrey Seitsang, tortured him and even deprived him medical attention," Webster said.

He said the pair should be released immediately.

The Hawks have however refuted the allegations and spokesperson Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso said they were simply doing their job.

"If you look at the charges, we have evidence pointing to a crime. Aubrey Seitsang was arrested on December 12 and is facing murder charges. He has already appeared in court. Phillip Mntombi was arrested on December 19 for a robbery of a firearm and will appear in court on December 21," said Rikhotso.

She further stated that no one was tortured or kidnapped. After the arrests, they were taken to Phokeng police station.

But Webster said the charges against Mntombi were fabricated. He said the gun in question was brought to a meeting by a rival political party member from the ANC and that the community had disarmed the person.

"The gun incident was on a day we were supposed to have had a ward meeting and a man from the ANC came with a gun. He fired one shot and the community confiscated the gun. The ward councillor tried to intervene and quell the situation but the community wanted to hit him," said Webster.

He added that residents have not been able to see Mntombi since his incarceration. He called on the authorities to release both Mntombi and Seitsang and to ensure they don't get used to settle political scores.

"We demand the release of our councillor Phillip Mntombi and Aubrey Seitsang with immediate effect. There is political instability within Marikana. Certain parties are already campaigning and saying there will be by-elections in the area. We don't know why but it appears as though the Hawks are being used to fight political scores and defend the ANC," he said.

Rikhotso denied that the Hawks were being used by anyone to settle scores.

"We are not being used by the ANC. There was a crime committed and we acted based on that," she said.

Attempts to get comment from the ANC in the North West were not successful.