Shilowa worried over Malema barring

By Drum Digital
18 September 2012

Cope faction leader Mbhazima Shilowa expressed concern on Tuesday over the barring of expelled ANCYL leader Julius Malema from a stadium in the North West.

"The prevention of erstwhile ANCYL president Julius Malema by SA Police Force (sic) to enter Wonderkop Stadium in Marikana and address the striking workers must be condemned in the strongest terms by all democrats," said Shilowa, a leader of a faction of the Congress of the People.

On Monday, an angry Malema was filmed being stopped by police and told to leave the area as he made his way to the stadium.

Malema said he had been invited, before eventually being forced back to his vehicle and escorted out of town by police.

A police spokesman said earlier on Tuesday he would clarify the reasons for barring him, but this has not yet been forthcoming.

SA Council of Churches Bishop Jo Seoka said earlier on Tuesday he had applied for permission to address the gathering.

The terms were that people attending wear a white T-shirt, so that they can be easily identified as being part of the group meant to be there; and that the meeting take an hour.

Not everybody adhered to the dress code because not everyone was able to find the right attire and the meeting took longer than expected, as discussions over a new offer to Lonmin management took place in the stadium.

There was no restriction on who could attend, or who could address the meeting, said Seoka.

Shilowa said: "The South African Constitution guarantees all of us, including Malema, the rights to address any gathering in South Africa without any hindrance, within the confines of the law."

He said police quoted no law or court order under which they denied Malema these fundamental rights.

"If the conduct of the police is left unchallenged, simply on the basis that Malema is not everybody's favourite politician, then South Africa is in danger of collectively violating our own Constitution."

The "Malema phenomenon" was a political matter that should be left to politicians, and history showed "the police must stay out of it".

The news that the Hawks were investigating a charge of incitement laid by trade union Solidarity could never mean that his rights and freedoms be denied.

"The blurring of the lines and the criminalisation of political opponents like Malema is gravely dangerous," said Shilowa.

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