Violence erupts at IFP, ANC rallies

2009-02-01 00:00

Tensions between the ANC and rivals’ IFP reached boiling point yesterday in Nongoma, northern KZN, as acts of violence and intimidation were reported on a day that saw the two political giants hold massive rallies in the town.

Hundreds of police officers and members of the South African National Defence Force deployed to Nongoma had their hands full as they tried to stop ANC and IFP members from clashing openly on the streets.

Late yesterday, ANC MP and member of the Zulu royal house Prince Zeblon Zulu and two female acquaintances were injured when they were ambushed by unknown gunmen.

Zulu and the two women were making their way from the ANC’s manifesto rally, which was held at KwaSeme near Nongoma.

Provincial police spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said Zulu’s car was attacked just after 4 pm in Ovukeni. “The gunmen ambushed the car and shot at the occupants of the car injuring the three occupants.”

Radebe said one person, a woman, was critically injured during the attack. Prince Zulu and the third person were slightly injured.

“She was shot twice, once in the forehead … She was rushed to hospital while the others were treated at a local clinic,” Radebe, who rushed to the scene of the attack, said.

Radebe said the gunmen were known to police and a search was on by early evening yesterday.

Earlier yesterday morning, hordes of IFP supporters blockaded the town’s main road and stoned buses carrying ANC supporters.

Five ANC supporters were injured. Cars and busses were also smashed, allegedly by knobkerrie-wielding IFP supporters. Police resorted to stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the unruly crowd, leading to more confrontations between police and IFP members.

MEC for Safety and Community Liaison Bheki Cele rushed to the scene yesterday, while IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango tried to control his supporters.

Tensions between the two parties were reported in the run-up to the rallies. On Saturday, a local ANC leader was injured after being shot in the leg, allegedly by an IFP councillor.

It is alleged that the IFP councillors, accompanied by a group of IFP supporters, stormed the ANC offices in the area on Saturday as ANC members were making final preparations for yesterday’s rally.

“[The IFP members] told the ANC members that no one was allowed to be a member of the ANC in Nongoma. An altercation ensued during which the IFP councillor drew a firearm and shot Ngcobo in the leg,” said Sibusiso Zulu, the chairman of the ANC’s King Magasa branch.

Director Phindile Radebe told The Witness that a woman was arrested in connection with the incident and police were looking for other suspects. “The woman who was arrested was also found in possession of an unlicensed firearm and has been charged with [posession of an unlicensed firearm,” she said.

Radebe said that police know who the other suspects are and arrests are imminent.

ANC leaders condemned the violence. ANC KZN chairman Zweli Mkhize said the ANC reported the matter to the police and to the Independent Electoral Commission.

ANC president Jacob Zuma appealed for tolerance ahead of the elections, saying that everyone should be allowed to campaign freely.

“Such acts are unacceptable and go against the laws of the country and the Constitution of our country. I had thought that we were past this era [of political intolerance].

“It is therefore surprising to find that there are still people who are this primitive in their thinking,” he told supporters at the ANC rally.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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