PMB marchers stand-off

2017-04-12 06:00
PHOTOs: nokuthula khanyileBlu Gel staff outside New England Road in Scottsville.

PHOTOs: nokuthula khanyileBlu Gel staff outside New England Road in Scottsville.

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HUNDREDS of anti-and pro Zuma marchers were captured in a tense stand-off outside Publicity­ House in Commercial Road in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

The marchers were part of the #AntiZuma­ and #HandsOffZuma marches that took place nationwide.

The anti-Zuma protesters were calling for Jacob Zuma to step down as president.

Police had to use stun grenades to save DA supporters from attack by members of the ANC Youth league-led protest.

The ANCYL protesters, who were first stationed in Langalibalele Street next to Unisa, ran amok pushing their way towards Publicity House where the DA was having its anti-Zuma protest.

DA supporters ran for cover and their gazebo was set alight by ANCYL protesters.

One of the anti-Zuma marchers, Shane Opperman, said he had chosen to take part in the march to save South Africa.

“We are here to save South Africa from death and destruction. This is not about race or class, it is about removing someone who has no regard for the people of this country. There are 55 million lives at stake and we are saying enough is enough, Zuma must go.”

Another anti-Zuma protestor Buntu Mdutyana said he was tired of watching people suffer.

“Every single thing about the government­ is wrong, we demand a change. The president must step down - he is a self-absorbed individual and would rather see his people suffering.

“The sooner he goes the better for the country. I am here because I support the course of anti-corruption and anti-incompetence in government.”

A pro-Zuma supporter who asked to remain anonymous said the DA had no right to dictate to the country’s leadership.

“We are here to defend Zuma, we will not be told by Maimane and his cronies who must run the country. We put Zuma as the president of the country and he will only leave office when his term ends in 2019. The DA cannot tell us what to do.”

A few metres away, outside the city hall, a group from the Black Empowerment Foundation also staged a peaceful protest against the anti-Zuma marches. This small crowd was dispersed with the DA and ANC supporters.

Speaking on behalf of the foundation, Ibrahim Shaik said they were disappointed their protest was cut short.

“We came here with a mission to be a voice for the voiceless and we believe we have delivered that message by being here today.”

Shaik said their cause was to promote radical economic transformation.

“After 23 years of democracy, black people who make up 80% of the population only own one percent of the economy while the minority controls 90%.

“We are being robbed daily, our resources are being looted in billions everyday and profits taken to offshore accounts, our people in rural areas don’t have basic necessities.

“We support the president’s decision to remove those that stand in the way of radical economic transformation.”

In New England Road, Blu Gel Hair Studio staff members were spreading love. Dressed in black, they took to the streets, dancing and waving at passersby.

Steph Chamen said with the current state of the country they were trying to encourage unity.

“We are carrying our national flags that symbolise our rainbow nation.

“We are one and we are just encouraging Maritzburgers to hoot if they love rainbows.”

Along the N3 highway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg before the Ashburton turn-off, a “Voetsek Zuma! Hamba!#ZumaMustFall” banner was put up, but later removed by route patrol workers.

The workers said erecting the banner was illegal.

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