Electrocution of DA councillor Ken Denysschen: Cadre deployment strikes again

Ken Denysschen – a Don Quixote in dysfunctional rural South Africa

It’s a reflection of the challenges in our society that in the past few years I’ve attended many more funerals than christenings. The funerals were mostly of those who passed on before reaching their allotted three score years and ten – mostly killed by stress-related illnesses or unnatural causes. The dearth of christenings is because children of our friends are scattered to all parts of the world. As are mine. I will be in Europe next week to see my elder daughter graduate from her Irish university. So, sadly, will not attend the funeral of the late Ken Denysschen. But will be there in spirit. And shall never forget Mooi River’s finest. Because Ken was a unique human being, a courageous crusader, a servant of his constituency who believed the South African Constitution gave him the right to demand better. He fearlessly exposed corruption and incompetence in the town we called home from 2010 to 2012. The manner of his death says much about the state of rural South Africa. There are not many other places in the civilised world where the Candidate would himself have to hang his political party’s posters. And none, surely, where neglect of infrastructure is so obvious that he was killed doing this task. We lived on the same Giant’s Castle Road where Ken died. Our old farm, Graceland, was just two kilometres further away from the town. We were forced to relocate back to Johannesburg after copper cable thieves stole Telkom lines three times in a fortnight. You cannot run a radio programme or an Internet publisher without connectivity. Just like any sane person cannot seriously believe they’re running a country correctly when live electricity wires dangle from street poles, ready to kill any unfortunate who brushes against them. The ANC’s policy of cadre deployment above merit has sowed destruction everywhere. Not just in the economy. We can now add Ken Denysschen’s name to the long list of needless victims. – AH    

By Nalini Naidoo of The Witness 

FAMILY, friends and residents of Mooi River are struggling to come to terms with the tragic death of former DA Councillor Ken Denysschen.

Close friend Rick Fell said he cannot get over the fact that his death came about as a result of the town’s crumbling infrastructure, “the very issue that Ken fought so hard for and in vain, to get the municipality to sort out”.

The pole on Giant's Castle Road outside of Mooi Rover where Ken Denysschen was electrocuted. Members of the public stop to pay their respects.
The pole on Giant’s Castle Road outside of Mooi Rover where Ken Denysschen was electrocuted. Members of the public stop to pay their respects.

Denysschen was electrocuted late on Thursday afternoon after he touched a live cable wrapped around a pole while putting up election posters for the town’s by-election on November, 26. The election is to be held after the previous dysfunctional council, wracked by in-fighting and service delivery woes, was dissolved and the municipality placed under administration.

Fell said he went to the municipality to see the municipal manager Max Moyo and the administrator Buhle Ally. “They were not there. I left messages and they haven’t contacted me.”

Denysschen’s lifeless body was found by Alan and Debbie Stratford. They were driving into Mooi River when they saw his van and the ladder propped up the pole. The Stratfords stopped, thinking he may have fallen off the ladder. As they approached, they saw his arm was burnt and realised he had been electrocuted.

Fellow DA member Moira Gruenenberg believes his death was due to negligence. She said it was unacceptable to have a live wire hanging on a lamp pole.
Fell said it has been hardest for Denysschen’s son Shawn, who is in matric this year. He wrote a paper yesterday morning, hours after his father’s death.

The former councillor’s traumatised partner Lisa was sedated by her doctor.

Fell said they were waiting for Denysschen’s brother to arrive from Australia before finalising funeral arrangements. He said Denysschen’s other son lived in Pietermaritzburg and he had a daughter in New Zealand.

Denysschen died three months after his father whom he was named after. Ken Denysschen Sr., renowned as a top footballer, died in August when Mooi River was rocked by community protests with roads blockaded with burning tyres.

In a blog on finance journalist Alec Hogg’s Biznews.com, Denysschen describes trying to find out about the welfare of residents in Bruntville before rushing off to Durban to arrange his father’s funeral.

Hogg described him saying, “Denysschen Junior has clearly inherited his famous footballing father’s courage. He pens a regular newsletter to constituents, exposing the inner workings of a set-up so incompetent that would be laughable were it not so reflective of Small Town South Africa.”

KZN MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube-Ncube said she was both shocked and saddened by Denysschen’s death. Dube-Ncube said Denysschen died in the cause of duty, willing to put himself forward as a servant of the people of Mooi-Mpofana. “He will be sorely missed …”

Despite leaving messages with the staff for Moyo and Ally to contact Weekend Witness, there was no response by the time of going to press.

Denysschen had been DA councillor at Mpofana Municipality since 2011. After a career in the corporate world, he became an entrepreneur, first opening a restaurant business and later moving into the micro lending sector in Newcastle. He opened a second branch of his micro lending business in Mooi River in 2006. He joined the Mpofana Ratepayers and Residents Association in 2008 and served in various roles, including as chairperson from 2010 until 2011.

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