Whisky, fists fly outside ANC office

2013-10-27 14:01

Street brawl breaks out between supporters of rival party factions in Limpopo

Whisky was poured over a man and slaps were dished out in a clash between the supporters of Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha and his rival, Public Works MEC Dickson Masemola.

The scene of the skirmish was the pavement outside Frans Mohlala House, the ANC’s Polokwane headquarters, in the early hours of Monday.

There, a staunch Mathabatha supporter allegedly assaulted one of Masemola’s fans, Eddie Maake, and poured whisky over him.

Then economic development MEC Charlie Sekwati – who had been called to the scene to separate the warring sides – allegedly prevented police from arresting the assailant.

The fight followed about two months of political drama in the province where about 100 branches have been disqualified from

participating in the regional conferences and the forthcoming provincial leadership conference.

The provincial conference, scheduled to take place in December, is being hotly contested between Mathabatha and Masemola – and the margin of victory is expected to be slim.

At about 4am on Monday, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Billy Masetlha were still inside the building trying to resolve the disputes lodged by branches allied to Masemola.

The branches have been disqualified from participating in the regional conferences after claims that they were not in good standing.

Chris Makwala said he and Maake had finished their meeting with the two political heavyweights. They were leaving the building when they were insulted by members of Mathabatha’s camp, who were drinking outside, and told them they were “full of s**t”.

Then a Mathabatha supporter, whose name is known to City Press, allegedly slapped Maake twice in the face and poured whisky over his head.

Makwala said: “He hit him twice with an open hand and poured whisky on his head and the ZCC badge on his shirt.”

Makwala and Maake went to the police station and returned with the police. But a bigger fight broke out, with members of opposing camps pushing and shoving one another and trading insults.

The battle continued when Mathabatha’s ally, Sekwati, allegedly tried to stop police from arresting Maake’s assailant.

Sekwati is contesting the leadership of the Mopani district, the province’s largest region, against David Maake, whom the alleged assault victim Eddie Maake supports.

Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the officers at the scene called for backup because they were “outnumbered”, and there were “a lot of people and it was chaos all over”.

Maake and the alleged assailant then went back to the police station in Sekwati’s Mercedes-Benz, where Eddie Maake claims that police refused to allow him to lay a complaint.

“When I arrived at the police station, they told me to wait in the charge office while (Sekwati) and the man who beat me up held a meeting in a small office of one of the police captains,” Maake said.

But when he asked for a pen and paper to write his statement, Maake claims the officer refused.

“I realised that they were taking sides because (Sekwati) is a powerful politician. They attacked us because the NEC allowed the branches, which they disqualified, to participate in the conferences,” he said.

But Sekwati denies that he had prevented police from arresting Maake’s alleged assailant. “It is true that there was an altercation between the two groups ....

“They started pulling each other and that man (Maake) ran to the police station. I was told that he was not even assaulted,” Sekwati said.

Mulaudzi has denied that the police officers refused to let Maake lay a complaint.

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