History repeats itself

2011-10-05 00:00

AFTER more than 25 years of absenteeism from active politics, this week I became an ANC Youth League activist and guess what happened? Just like in the eighties, I again experienced the fumes of tear gas as heavily armed security guards fired at us.

I was part of the ANCYL activists from eThekwini branches who wanted to participate in the meeting where ANCYL national leaders were explaining the disbandment of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC).

Because the media was not allowed at the meeting I was disguising myself as an ANCYL

activist armed with my notebook and a pen.

At the door I was refused

entry for obvious reasons

— I was neither an ANCYL eThekwini branch chairperson or a branch secretary — so I joined the growing number of rejected people in the passage by the lift.

I desperately wanted to be in that meeting as I anticipated chaos in view of the atmosphere at the last meeting of the eThekwini ANCYL which rejected the disbandment of the provincial leadership.

As the meeting was about to start someone started singing a revolutionary song and everyone joined in and began toyi-toyiing and singing pro-ANC President Jacob Zuma songs and others denouncing the ANCYL president, Julius Malema.

I did not know most of the songs, but just like Premier Zweli Mkhize during the singing of the (in)famous Dubula iBhunu at a Cosatu meeting recently, I slightly toyi-toyiied along.

Trouble started when security guards tried to lock the door adjoining the passage to the lift and the ANC offices. The activists rejected this and forcefully opened the door. While the meeting continued inside, some of the crowd surged forward in an attempt to force their way into the meeting.

Security guards then fired tear gas indiscriminately into the crowd and pandemonium broke out as people tried to escape from the fumes.

People were falling to the ground as others rushed to nearby taps to wash their faces. As there were no windows in the passage where I was, some ran to other passages that had windows and gasped for air.

I tried to breathe, but the tear gas was making it difficult and my eyes were teary as people next to me began vomiting and shouting for help.

The security guards then allowed us to go to bathrooms and wash our faces. They then escorted us out of the building and we walked down from the 21st floor to the ground floor, still dizzy from the fumes.

I still wonder how a stampede was avoided and I am relieved that no serious incident was reported. I do, however, want to know who ordered that tear gas be fired at a crowd in an

enclosed area.

As we safely reached the ground floor, I pondered and wondered about some of the dangers and risks I have gone through since I ventured into journalism 24 years ago. My conclusion, though, is that it’s all worth it.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.