Journalists warned away from pro-Malema gathering

2011-09-02 08:52

Dozens of ANC Youth League supporters warned media that they were not welcome at Beyers Naude Square in Johannesburg’s CBD where they gathered ahead of the next phase of the disciplinary hearing against their leader Julius Malema.

“We are going to beat you all by the end of the day because you are writing lies,” one league supporter told journalists.

Reporters and photographers scattered far from the square when they heard a rumour that people were gathering stones and preparing to attack them. Some were seen picking up bricks, while others danced and sang carrying the ANC flag.

One supporter pointed a toy machine gun at an SA Press Association journalist and those standing with her. Another blocked an SABC camera with his hands saying “go away, the media is not welcomed here”.

One placard read: “Scrape [sic] all the charges”.

Hawkers set up shop at Beyers Naude Square, hoping to cash in ahead of the ruling.One hawker carried a bucket of vetkoek while others grilled chicken and sold toasted sandwiches and Russian rolls.

Scores of police had arrived early and set up barbed wire across several streets to prevent a repeat of Tuesday’s running battles with journalists and supporters.Traffic was heavily backed up leading into the city, said Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar.

Sauer, Simmonds and Harrison streets were cordoned off and motorists were advised to use Joe Slovo Drive and the M2 instead.Malema was brought before the disciplinary committee this week on charges of bringing the African National Congress into disrepute and sowing divisions in ANC ranks.

The charges followed comments by Malema that the league would send a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties and to help bring about regime change, as it believed the government there was “in full co-operation with imperialists” and undermining the “African agenda”.

Charged with him are league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, deputy president Ronald Lamola, treasurer-general Pule Mabe, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and deputy secretary-general Kenetswe Mosenogi.

All except Shivambu would appear before the committee on Friday, said Mthembu. His disciplinary hearing had been postponed to a later date.

On Wednesday, party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said that the disciplinary hearing was adjourned to give the committee time to decide on Malema’s application for the charges to be dropped.

On Tuesday, groups of youths purportedly supporting Malema and his four colleagues threw rocks, bottles and bricks at journalists and police in the Johannesburg CBD.The violence subsided after Malema addressed them.

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