Sit-in will go on ‘until arrest’

2011-07-02 00:00

“WE are not going anywhere, we gave up our lives for the struggle and if we need to go to jail to defend this democracy from corrupt leadership so be it.”

Sibongile Mkhize, leader of the ANC activists staging a sit-in at the Moses Mabhida regional offices, was speaking after an order was granted in the high court in Pietermaritzburg ordering the activists to vacate the offices, which they have occupied for more than four weeks, demanding the disbanding of the ANC’s regional executive committee (REC).

“There was a meeting that we had with the provincial executive committee (PEC) on Tuesday night and we gave our names, not knowing that they were going to use them in court to evict us. We thought that we could trust the ANC leadership.”

Mkhize said there were 18 respondents named in the case. However, only eight gave their real names at the PEC meeting. The other 10 names are aliases.

“We are going to wait for the sheriff of the court to serve us the judgment and we not going anywhere until police come to arrest us for fighting for the removal of the REC that has been the cause of the near financial collapse of Msunduzi Municipality,” she said.

Mkhize said they are not afraid of going to jail. “We are not fighting with the law, but we are tired of corrupt leaders tarnishing the name of the ANC,” she added.

After the court proceedings the activists marched through the streets of Pietermaritzburg chanting struggle songs and denouncing ANC leaders, including provincial chairperson and Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize, provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala, regional secretary Supa Zuma and former regional treasurer Alpha Shelembe.

They alleged that the PEC under Zweli Mkhize has failed to deal with their demand to disband the REC because the PEC was also party to the collapse of the Msunduzi Municipality. They accused Zikalala of creating division within the region because he is alleged to be mobilising branches to support the REC.

In court the protesters were ordered to file opposing affidavits by Tuesday, July 5, ahead of the return date for the application on July 7.

The interim order was granted in open court by Judge Trevor Gorven, who invited verbal submissions from representatives of the protesters, two of whom came forward.

Sibongile Mkhize said that as an ANC member who pays subscriptions used to rent the offices, she believes the sit-in is not unlawful and they are not trespassing.

“As ANC members we have our own culture of doing things and that does not include doing things in a court of law. We are sitting in our own offices and we do not see that we are committing any violation.”

Mkhize and Nana Mnandi, asked the court to grant the protesters at least a week to “defend” themselves and not to evict them in the interim. They said they want to brief an attorney and to respond to the allegations against them.

However, advocate Rob Seggie SC, for the ANC, said the group are clearly illegally “squatting” and affecting business operations.

He said members of the REC have been threatened with violence and are too afraid to enter the building while the protesters remain there.

Super Zuma detailed various failed attempts to negotiate with the protesters. He said the matter is urgent as the regional conference of the Moses Mabhida region is due to be held in August to elect a new REC.

Before that the REC has to conduct an audit of all its branches. This is a “long process” that cannot take place without access to the offices.

* Security officials at the high court vowed yesterday to conduct thorough searches of the public when the case returns to court next week after one man emerged from court into the foyer holding a knobkierrie aloft. Guards said he must have hidden the weapon in his clothing and machines did not detect it because it was wooden.

It was alleged that another man had what appeared to be a firearm strapped to his ankle in court.

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