Gwede Mantashe (Picture: AFP)
Johannesburg - The ANC on Friday declined to comment on reports that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had to be protected by armed police officers during an election campaign in Sterkspruit, in the Eastern Cape.
"I was not there and I have not even spoken to him," African National Congress spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.
"So I can't comment until I've spoken to him. And if there is a need to release a statement then we will."
The Daily Dispatch reported that Sterkspruit has been a no-go zone for the ANC in recent years, with Sterkspruit Civic Association (SCA) members reportedly wanting the town to secede from the Senqu municipality. The area also experienced violent riots more than a year ago.
INTERACTIVE MAP! See how the ANC's votes shifted in the Senqu district (where Sterkspruit is located).
Mantashe's "meet and greet" campaign took a volatile turn when he reached the town's taxi rank, where SCA members were meeting. According to the report, two groups, each about 400-strong, shouted and cursed each other.
One person yelled: "You are thieves, we will not vote for Nkandla."
Another shouted: "Gwede does not care for us. We are not his sheep."
Armed police surrounded Mantashe and four stun grenades were thrown. The ANC delegation moved to the town hall while SCA members ran alongside them, chanting slogans, the Dispatch reported.
Mantashe later told the publication he was excited to be in the area.
"There was no hostile grouping. Actually I was excited that we blitzed the whole town.
"We didn’t run away from them, we asked them to bring a delegation we can talk to. They have not [done so]," he was quoted as saying.
"When you do not want to talk, but instead disturb ANC programmes, we say you are working with the opposition. It’s like someone riding a donkey backwards, they look like they are coming towards us [ANC] but in fact they are walking away."
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