PMB nervous about verdict

2008-09-11 00:00

It’s judgment day and a tense Pietermaritzburg waits in trepidation for Judge Chris Nicholson’s verdict in ANC president Jacob Zuma’s case today. Will there be an outpouring of anger if the judgment goes against Zuma and will mayhem prevail? Or will there be raucous celebrations if the judgment is for him?

A blasé Pietermaritzburg public that has grown used to mass gatherings of Zuma supporters and who have praised them for their good behaviour in the past, are not so sure anymore. This is after a peaceful march by Zuma supporters in Durban turned ugly on Wednesday, with reports of bystanders being intimidated and clashes with the police.

A poll of Maritzburgers yesterday revealed tension and uncertainty.

The wet weather last night did not put a dampener on the vigil and by late evening, people were arriving in large numbers. The crowds were much bigger than the last vigil. Buses started dropping off supporters from 7 pm and word was that many more were travelling through the night and were expected here in the early hours. Plans have been made for the arrival of more than 10 000 people.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said they took note of what had happened in Durban, but do not expect the same in Pietermaritzburg.

“If the situation does get out of hand, we have sufficient staff on the ground to deal with it.”

Budhram added that all SAPS units are on standby and will be available to work together.

The provincial leadership of the ANC also expressed confidence that the situation will be under control. Deputy secretary Sihle Zikalala said they had carried out extensive preparations before today and have worked closely with the police. He added that they are looking at what happened in Durban and why.

“Those events cannot be linked to what is going to take place in Pietermaritzburg today. To ensure that there is control, we have also deployed hundreds of marshals in the area,” he said.

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