The crowds outside: Smaller than expected

2008-08-04 00:00

Threats by Jacob Zuma supporters that they would arrive in such large numbers that they would bring the city to a standstill did not materialise yesterday, and for the most part, it was business as usual as shops and offices in and around the high court continued to operate.

They impressed local residents with their exemplary behaviour. “If this is how well Zuma gets his people to behave, then he can be president,” said a shopper.

KZN Council of Churches peace monitor S’bu Khanyile said he was impressed by the behaviour, particularly that passers-by were allowed to go to work and about their business and were not forced to join in the protest.

The police reported no serious incidents. Senior Suprintendent Henry Budhram said all went well from their side. “We were pleased with the behaviour of the crowd and the manner in which they conducted themselves. There was a large police presence around the high court.”

A Safe City camera on top of the Natalia Building in Langalibalele Street was trained on Freedom Square and policemen were seen on the municipal building roof at 333 Church Street.

The crowd in Freedom Square varied through the night and day; by midnight numbers were around 3 000 and during the day, about 4 000. However, numbers swelled to well over 6 000 when Zuma walked out of court at the end of the day.

Supporters from Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Free State and the Northern Province travelled through the night and started arriving in the city from 4 am. Buses delivered passengers to Freedom Square before parking at the Harry Gwala Stadium. By late afternoon there were over 30 buses at the stadium.

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