Malema on tyre scandal: ‘They might have been cleaning the streets’

2014-02-08 18:32

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Members of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have admitted to ferrying tyres around for protesters, but denied that they had provided these.

Yesterday, a picture taken by French press agency AFP photographer Marco Longari showed young people with red berets on the back of an EFF-branded bakkie apparently off-loading tyres to be burnt at a violent protest in Hebron near Pretoria.

The bakkie had a picture of Malema’s face on it.

Malema told City Press the youths would have been “out of order” if they went out to distribute the tyres.

“I don’t know them, I just saw their picture on Twitter. I wouldn’t conclude they were distributing tyres, they might have been cleaning the streets,” he said.

“We don’t encourage violent protests. We encourage peaceful protests and we want more of those,” he said.

EFF branch co-ordinator in Hebron, Reuben Mohulatsi, told City Press he was one of those on the bakkie ferrying the tyres.

He said the protesters closed the road, but their EFF-branded car was allowed through.

“They opened the road for the car. People were very happy to see us. It was the only car that was allowed to pass through,” he said.

Mohulatsi said the protesters then put the tyres on the back of the car. “The tyres were used to burn on the street.”

He said protesters gave them tyres and the EFF car took these (unburnt) to another part of the township.

“It was an instruction of the community and was given (to us) as one of the conditions to pass,” he said.

Mohulatsi was arrested on Wednesday and charged with inciting violence, but he was released again on Thursday morning.

He said the EFF wasn’t organising the march, but members were participating “as members of the community but also as part of the EFF”.

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