ANCYL facing contempt of court charge over Kathrada memorial disruption

2017-05-29 13:41
(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress Youth League leader Thanduxolo Sabelo and the organisation are formally facing a contempt of court charge, relating to disruptions at an April memorial service for ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada in Durban.

The organisers of the event, the Active Citizens Movement (ACM), have filed papers in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban asking a judge to rule that Sabelo personally pay R50 000, and the league R100 000, to a charitable organisation.

The ACM also wants the court to order that the youth league place a paid-for advert apologising for their behaviour in four newspapers, including the isiZulu-language publication, Isolezwe.

It has supplied a transcript of the proposed apology, which includes an undertaking to ensure that similar "unfortunate and disrespectful" conduct will never be repeated.

If the order is granted, non-compliance will mean that Sabelo can be imprisoned for 90 days and that the ACM can attach league assets, to the value of R100 000, for sale at auction.

The ACM has turned back to the court after the ANCYL ignored a demand, issued shortly after the memorial, to apologise through newspaper advertisements.

The days before the memorial, which was open to the public, the ACM sought an urgent interdict barring ANCYL members from attending, saying there were fears for the safety of keynote speaker axed finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

After promises from youth league leadership that they would behave, KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Rashid Vahed ruled that they could attend, but granted an order interdicting any "assaults, intimidation or harassment and any attempt to remove any of the speakers".

'Voetsek, voetsek'

What occurred that Sunday - when ANCYL members disrupting  proceedings, heckling and booing speakers - was widely reported in the media and is spelled out in detail by ACM executive chairperson Benedictor Madokwe in his affidavit in the pending contempt application.

He describes how, even before the doors were opened, a large group of ANC supporters, wearing T-shirts bearing Jacob Zuma's image, had become unruly, blocking vehicle access and singing "Umshini Wami" and "voetsek voetsek".

Some were drinking alcohol and one asked a marshal for the free food they had been promised.

"As soon as the gate was opened, the ANCYL organisers rushed in and tried to commandeer the gate. They stole bags of tags and handed them over the gate to other members, ensuring them access to the gate.

"They stormed to the front of the queue."

In a televised interview on the day of the memorial, Thinta Cibane, eThekwini ANCYL secretary, said members had promised to behave, "but we must not be provoked".

He said he had a problem with people wearing "hands off treasury" T-shirts, "as we feel we are being incited".

During the actual memorial, Madokwe said, several speakers including Gordhan, were heckled, "drowned out", and could not complete their speeches.

Pleas by KwaZulu-Natal ANC leader Sihle Zikalala and Dr Zweli Mkhize for them to stop fell on deaf ears.

Posters put up by the ACM were torn down.

'Proper apology'

Madokwe said the lawyer's letter, demanding the public apology, was an attempt to avoid litigation.

"First they denied any knowledge of it… then they requested a meeting. We persisted with our request for an apology and the names of those who violated the Judge Vahed's order."

Makodwe said it was important for the contempt order to be granted, "to ensure that the rule of law is observed and court orders are treated as sacrosanct.

"In the absence of such an order, a dangerous precedent will have been set, encouraging members of the public to violate orders with impunity. This court should admonish those who commit contempt.

"The order envisages a monetary compensation order… at the heart of this application is the request for a proper apology," he said.

The matter has been set down for August 14.

The respondents have five days in which to note an intention to oppose and 15 days to file affidavits.

In previous media reports, Sabelo denied contravening the interdict and said he had acted according to its conditions.

Read more on:    ancyl  |  ahmed kathrada  |  politics

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