Blocked

2012-11-05 00:00

THE police seem incapable of effectively doing their jobs in public situations involving the ANC or its alliance partners.

This is according to the DA, after about 100 policemen in riot gear blocked the road to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home, only stopping its entourage from going through while letting ANC supporters pass via a side road.

DA leader Helen Zille and her entourage were there to inspect the reported renovations to Zuma’s controversial homestead.

DA chief of staff Jordan Hill-Lewis said: “I think sometimes the police are nervous about executing their duties, especially on matters that involve the ruling party and its allies. This is because they [police] feel that the ruling party does as it wishes to get its way, even if it means breaking the law. In whatever they [police] do, they don’t want to be on the wrong side of the ruling party.”

This left the DA frothing at the mouth over what they see as a continued and all too familiar police bias when the country’s law enforcement outfit has to deal with public situations involving the ruling party or its alliance partners.

There was no shortage of drama on the dusty hills of Nkandla yesterday.

One ANC supporter was arrested after allegedly firing his rifle into the air; Mkhonto Wesizwe veterans lay down on the road to “die for Zuma” preventing traffic from going through; while some supporters carrying sticks sang Dubhula iBhunu (Shoot the Boer), a controversial song the ANC recently agreed to ditch in an out-of-court settlement reached with Afrikaans lobby group AfriForum and the Transvaal Agricultural Union (Tau SA).

Although Zille told the police that her entourage had permission to gather on a public road outside a school opposite Zuma’s home, she was told she could not pass the roadblock because there were ANC supporters gathered on the road to the kwaNxamalala village homestead.

Zille’s political assistant Shaun Moffitt said the police clearly took sides when they prevented the DA from entering Nkandla, yet allowed buses and vehicles with ANC members through to an “illegal gathering”.

“They allowed the gathering to go ahead. If more than 15 people gather for political reasons, they have to give the state 14 days’ notice. The ANC grouping was not dispersed and the police refused to take action against them,” Moffitt said.

He said in service delivery protests the police usually quickly dispersed protesters if they did not have permission to gather.

Hill-Lewis said the Nkandla incident needed thorough investigation, as the DA had written to the police informing them about its intention weeks ago. “So we expected to be protected by the police as is our constitutional right,” he said.

He said two charges were registered with the police; one against the ANC for gathering illegally and another one against the police for failing to protect the DA.

Zille also threatened legal action to force Zuma to disclose details of the renovations to his homestead.

DA leader in the KZN Legislature, Sizwe Mchunu, was conspicuously missing from the Nkandla delegation.

“I couldn’t be there because of other political commitments I had, which are within my work in the party,” he said.

Zille said Nkandla had been turned into a monument of corruption.

Nkandla villager Sibongiseni Bhengu said: “In my view, she can march anywhere in the country, but not to the house of Msholozi. In any event Zuma does no stay here, he lives in Pretoria and Cape Town, that’s where she should be marching to,” Bhengu said.

Patrick Shange, of the Mgabadeli branch from Eshowe, said he came to Nkandla to show his support for and to defend Zuma.

ANC regional chairperson Thulani Mashaba denied that they had gathered illegally, saying local chief Bheki Zuma had given them permission to hold the demonstration.

Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said the ANC supporter who fired the rifle would be charged in terms of the Illegal Gathering Act. He confirmed that Zille had opened a case against ANC members for gathering illegally.

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