DA lays charges against Cosatu

By Drum Digital
16 May 2012

DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane laid charges against Cosatu on Wednesday after a protest by the party turned violent in Johannesburg.

Charges of incitement of violence, intimidation and illegal gathering were laid at the Hillbrow police station at noon.

The DA would also analyse footage of the march to try and identify individual perpetrators, Democratic Alliance spokeswoman Kelly Miller said.

"We hope first of all that we must all accept the rule of law, and we must accept that everything we do must be within legal parameters," Maimane said.

Rocks and pieces of cement flew in a confrontation between DA and Cosatu supporters in Braamfontein on Tuesday. Police used teargas and water cannons to disperse Cosatu members, who stopped the DA from protesting outside its headquarters.

Miller said four party members were hospitalised, and a number of others injured.

The DA wanted Cosatu to stop stonewalling a government youth wage subsidy that, it argued, would create thousands of new jobs for young people.

Maimane said Cosatu had behaved "undemocratically".

"They [Cosatu] came out in their numbers, holding an illegal march, and holding in contempt the idea that the youth wage subsidy should be considered."

Cosatu was not contesting the youth wage subsidy because it had not come up with an alternative, he said.

"They have made it a contest of people, a contest of class. For the benefit of our democracy, we must make it a contest of ideas."

A working environment must be created which could address the concerns of South Africa's young people.

"The issue we are going to fight for is that people must be employed," Maimane said.

The march, led by DA leader Helen Zille, youth leader Makashule Gana, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and Maimane, began peacefully. But when the protesters turned into Jorissen Street in Braamfontein they were met by toyi-toying Cosatu members moving down the street from Cosatu's offices, opposite the Joburg Theatre.

For an hour, the two groups traded insults, with a cordon of police keeping them apart.

When rocks and pieces of cement were thrown into the crowd during Zille's speech and a DA member on the VIP truck was seriously injured, the DA retreated to Jan Smuts Avenue.

Cosatu members then chased DA supporters and police had their hands full trying to control groups intent on hounding blue-shirted protesters out of the area.

Police eventually sprayed teargas and fired a high pressure water gun to break up the Cosatu crowd.

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