Visible police presence at IFP court case

2010-11-12 10:54

Police commissioner General Bheki Cele was at the Pietermaritzburg High Court this morning to ensure safety and security during a court application by the IFP’s national chairperson.

“I am here to ensure that there is safety and security. I am working,” said Cele.

Thousands of supporters of the IFP’s national chairperson, Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, picketed outside court this morning.

“We are here in our numbers to support our leader. We want to show that we love her,” said Nomagugu Ngubane.

Cele arrived at 9.30am and was accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal safety MEC Willies Mchunu.

The court will today hear an application by Magwaza-Msibi, who seeks to stop her party from hauling her before an inquiry that may result in her expulsion. The court proceedings were expected to start at 10.30am.

She also wants the court to order the party to hold its elective conference, which has been postponed six times since July last year. Her supporters claim she is being elbowed out of the race to succeed current party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

She received a resounding welcome when she arrived in court at 8.30am, accompanied by many body guards.

Magwaza-Msibi’s more than 3 000 supporters set up a stage inside the Freedom Park outside the court where they danced and sang pro-Magwaza-Msibi songs.

By 8.30am, only a few members of the faction that supports the current IFP leadership were present.

A police helicopter hovered above, monitoring the crowd.

The Magwaza-Msibi crowd was also monitored by members of the erstwhile IFP-aligned special protection units, which recently pledged their support for her.

The IFP banned them from its offices and meetings after they said they supported Magwaza-Msibi.

The road between the park and the court was closed.

It was agreed in court last month that both Magwaza-Msibi’s application and that of three other IFP members would be heard at the same time.

Wiseman Mcoyi of the Friends of VZ group that supports Magwaza-Msibi, Nhlanhla Khawula and Thokozani Zulu lodged papers in the same court in July, challenging their dismissals and the legality of the current party leadership. The three were expelled from the party after they openly campaigned for Magwaza-Msibi.

They also wanted the court to force the party to hold its elective conference.

In the court papers lodged last month, Magwaza-Msibi claims the party’s elective conference was postponed so her supporters could be removed. She claims she became a threat after some IFP members expressed a wish for her to replace Buthelezi upon his retirement.

There were many IFP leaders in the court corridors.

“We have deployed a lot of police officers. We are confident that there will be peace today,” said Mchunu.

It was not clear if Mchunu and Cele would attend court proceedings.

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