IFP Youth chair quits over police methods

2009-09-02 00:00

THE chairman of the IFP Youth Brigade in the greater eThekwini region stepped down from his position yesterday, saying that “he does not want blood on his hands”.

Muzi Simelane, who was one of the youth leaders leading the protest to the IFP’s headquarters in Durban on Monday where police used rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, said he recused himself as chairman because the incident could have led to the deaths of IFP members.

“I was not injured, but it hurt me to see some members injured. The police were given a directive by senior leadership to shoot at us [the youth brigade].What if the youth members died during the shooting?” said Simelane.

He told The Witness that the youth brigade wants transformation so the party can progress, and the senior leadership is opposed to this. He said he could not tolerate the shooting of young people at the directive of the leadership.

He said he can no longer lead the youth with truth against a senior leadership that is “untruthful”. Simelane said he will continue to be a member of the party.

Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said yesterday that the SAPS will investigate ways of dealing with public protests and conflict situations other than the indiscriminate use of rubber bullets.

Five youth brigade members and a press photographer were injured on Monday.

“We are saddened that a member of media was injured as a result of our police service action. On behalf of the people of KwaZulu-Natal, we apologise for the mishap. I want to assure the public that our belief in media freedom remains intact. We stand ready to defend basic human rights of all our people, even those who are protesting,” said Mchunu.

Meanwhile, the IFP Women’s Brigade (IFPWB) has distanced itself from the recent demonstrations, saying they bypass democratic processes.

The brigade said the demonstrations were held by opportunists against a democratic­ally-elected leadership.

“The IFPWB believes that the rank and file of the IFP stands behind IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi as resolutely as ever. “Shenge [Buthelezi’s clan name] remains our president as long as he commands the support of the IFP’s membership,” said Nzuza.

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