ANC attacks rival pollsters

2011-05-03 00:00

THREE people were stabbed and 20 sustained minor injuries yesterday when members of the ANC attacked them for attending a meeting that had been called by independent election candidates.

The violence took place in front of police officers. They looked on as people were beaten and stoned at the Willowfountain grounds, an area with which ANC provincial chairperson Dr Zweli Mkhize has close ties.

Barely a week has passed since ANC president Jacob Zuma extended an olive branch to individuals who have registered as independent candidates because they were left off the ANC’s party lists, saying they should “come from the cold and campaign for the party”.

Fisani Zondi, an independent candidate for Ward 14 in Willowfountain, said, “I am the one who booked the hall on Friday, but today our area councillor, Sibusiso Mkhize, was already there waiting with a crowd to stop us from using the hall because he said this is an ANC hall.”

ANC members said the ward belongs to them.

Zondi said the independent councillors called the police to mediate, but they only spoke to Mkhize and ignored their plea to use the hall.

“When we saw that they were determined to stop us from holding a meeting at the hall, we then called all those who were supporting the independent candidates to join us outside the hall in an open field,” she said.

Zondi said a sitting ward councillor, Mtuza Mkhize, threatened to shoot her if she campaigns for other independent candidates.

That was when ANC supporters left the hall and advanced on the independent candidates’ supporters. The police looked on from inside a taxi. Shortly afterwards fighting broke out, and only then did the police react.

The angry independent candidates swore at the police and accused them of favouring the ANC and of not defending them when they were being attacked.

An independent candidate in Ward 32 (Woodlands), Vincent Myeni, said: “It is clear that this is not the ANC that their fathers fought for because the current regime has the audacity to attack and stab innocent people who are voicing their democratic right.”

He said the chairperson of the ANC’s regional executive committee had recently agreed to free and fair elections, but this was clearly at odds with the violent actions provoked by the sitting councillors and ANC ward candidates in Dambuza and Willowfountain.

Myeni said Mtuza and Sibusiso Mkhize, both ward councillors, had allowed their supporters to attack the candidates.

“Clearly this means that the ANC in this region has no respect and tolerance for other political views.”

He said he had pleaded with a Constable Ntshangase to intervene when the attacks started, but she and other officers did nothing to help until police officers from Taylor’s Halt arrived.

Myeni said the matter will be taken up with the Independent Electoral Commission.

Sandile Ngcobo, an independent candidate, said: “We are fighting against a system that was imposed on us by the provincial leadership to nominate people that were not favoured by the communities, and this is what we get for standing for our rights.”

ANC spokesperson Dr Makhosi Khoza said, “Those comrades are wrong. We want the ANC to win these elections free and fair. It is not an ANC policy to threaten people and create no-go areas.”

Khoza said South Africa is a democratic country and in a democracy people must learn to persuade people to vote for them and not use violence.

“We are going to investigate this matter and if any of our members are found to have acted unlawfully then action will be taken,”

Violence is not Dr Zweli Mkhize’s way , she said, because he is a disciplined member of the ANC and would never condone such acts. She criticised the police for not taking action.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said that if the officers present were found not to have done their duty, action would be taken against them. Police are appealing to organisers to obtain authorisation for public events to assist planning and to deploy enough police officers.

Cases of intimidation, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and common assault have been opened.

 

INDEPENDENT candidates allege the ANC is creating no-go zones, preventing them from campaigning in certain areas, and that they are being harassed while they are at it.

Zakhele Hlatshwayo, an independent candidate for ward 16 in greater Edendale, said that on Freedom Day he was campaigning in KwaPata and Dambuza, part of his ward.

“We were met by shouting and swearing and told that ‘you are not supposed to be here — this is our area’. They tried to tear down our banner and followed us as we marched down with our banner, singing, screaming and swearing.”

Hlatshwayo said it was clear that the provocateurs had wanted him to react so that they could accuse him of being a troublemaker.

The group followed them to the community hall where he and his supporters normally meet, but they were not allowed into the hall because the ANC members said the hall was theirs.

As he left he was confronted by the same group. They assaulted him outside his home, he said, and boasted that the police were on their side.

Hlatshwayo said he eventually called the police, who were impartial and listened to his side of the story.

He said he shudders to think what would have happened if his supporters had fought back.

He reported the matter to the Independent Electoral Commission, and is to present it with a written report at its request. He has also reported the matter to Plessislaer police station and is talking to his lawyer about bringing a defamation suit against certain individuals in the ANC.

 

 

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