The SA Police Service has served ANC breakaway leader Terror Lekota with a notice that his bodyguards will be withdrawn, officials said on Tuesday.

But Lekota, leader of the new opposition party Congress of the People, maintains his life is under threat and that he needs protection.

“You’ve seen it, not only at meetings he held both in Gauteng and Durban and everywhere else; there’s a constant threat,” said his spokesman Tseliso Phomane.

“Not only because he was a minister but because of this new organisation. There are people who want him dead and they say it openly; they don’t even hide it.”

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo said it was policy to withdraw bodyguards of a minister a month after he or she left office.

“Our policy is that a minister who has left office only qualifies for a month extra of protection, after which it is withdrawn,” said Naidoo.

Lekota’s resignation as defence minister from the Thabo Mbeki cabinet became effective on September 25.

When pointed out that it had already been more than a month since his resignation, Naidoo replied that he did not know when Lekota resigned.

“He’s been informed that his protection has been withdrawn,” said Naidoo. “These are the policies we have to stick by.” But Phomane said that Lekota was “attending to the matter; he’s addressing the powers that be”.

Phomane denied reports that Lekota was planning to lodge a court interdict on the matter.

Naidoo said Lekota was welcome to make a representation to the police on the matter.

Neither party would say if Lekota still enjoyed the services of bodyguards on Tuesday.

“This morning there was an indication that the guys might join him,” said Phomane.

Naidoo declined to say when the withdrawal of protection would come into effect.

Lekota was among a string of cabinet ministers who resigned out of loyalty to former president Thabo Mbeki, who was removed from office by the national executive committee of the ANC in September.

Since then, Lekota, alongside his former deputy defence minister Mluleki George and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, has announced the creation of a breakaway party called the Congress of the People.

ANC supporters have several times tried to disrupt Cope meetings, so much so that Lekota did not attend a recent meeting due to security concerns.

At a meeting in Orange Farm, Gauteng, ANC supporters chanted “kill Lekota” outside the venue.