Police gear up for Malema hearing

2011-08-31 07:40

Police carrying riot gear were marching through a Johannesburg street this morning, when ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s disciplinary hearing was set to continue.

More police officers arrived as their colleagues marched down President Street near Luthuli House, the headquarters of the African National Congress where Malema and five co-accused face disciplinary charges.

Streets around Luthuli House were expected to close around 10am, an officer on the scene told a Sapa reporter.

Journalists who had arrived early expressed nervousness ahead of the second day of the hearing which had seen Malema supporters turn violent.Jacaranda FM reporter Melissa du Preez was groped and pushed around by rioters yesterday.

“I’m hoping I won’t have to fear for my life again. I’m hoping it will be a bit more restrained. I was frightened when driving here this morning and was praying that other journalists would be here early as well. There’s safety in numbers.”

Eyewitness news reporter Andrea van Wyk was also groped, sworn at and called a bitch and an AfriForum agent.

“I will be a bit more cautious today and I hope demonstrators will heed Malema’s call not to target journalists.”

Most businesses were open after closing their doors yesterday when Malema supporters became violent.

“Right now the situation is back to normal,” said Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar.

“There’s a possibility that it could change.”

The ANC earlier said the hearing of Malema and his five co-accused would continue at Luthuli House, despite violent protests by his supporters there yesterday.

Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said there was a strong police presence in town.

“Our members are still there in town.”

Roads would be closed again, “if there are some problems”, said Dlamini.

A policeman was hospitalised yesterday and six journalists were hit by rocks, including a Carte Blanche cameraman, Dudley Saunders, who had a bleeding gash on his forehead, The Times newspaper reported today.

Sapa photographer Werner Beukes, two eNews journalists Belinda Moses and Cathy Mohlahlana, The Star photographer Boxer Ngwenya and Citizen photographer Michel Bega were also hit by rocks thrown by Malema supporters.

The ANC initially said the hearing would be moved to a different venue, but spokesman Jackson Mthembu this morning said it would continue at Luthuli House.

“The hearing will be held at Luthuli House, however if the situation does not improve, it will be moved to an alternative venue,” Mthembu said.

“The National Disciplinary Committee would make the final decision when or if to move venues.”

Rioters thronged Johannesburg’s city centre yesterday, hurling broken bricks at police and journalists, and burning pictures of President Jacob Zuma.

Malema, league spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, league deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy, Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer-general Pule Mabe faced charges of bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing divisions in ANC ranks.

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

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