We're not intimidated - Gwede Mantashe

2011-08-30 13:04
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma, journalists and police came under attack in Johannesburg's city centre where ANC Youth League members ran riot on Tuesday.

"We are not intimidated... they failed [in doing that]," ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters outside Luthuli House, where throngs of supporters of youth league leader Julius Malema had caused chaos ahead of his disciplinary hearing, which went ahead regardless.

"Whoever brought the crowd must take responsibility, whether it's an attack on the police or journalists or passing cars, the ANC will not take responsibility for that."

Mantashe condemned the "acts of criminality, violence and hooliganism" and said the ANC had never before had a situation where people from its own party had tried to storm its office.

Mantashe would not say if Malema was still inside the building, but confirmed that he had been there in the morning.

"I'm not his spokesman, I don't know," said Mantashe, who addressed the media shortly after national police commissioner General Bheki Cele arrived at the ANC's headquarters.

He added the hearing was going ahead as planned. "There has been no disruption."

Support for top leadership

Thousands of ANCYL members became violent in their pursuit to show support for Malema, who was facing a disciplinary hearing alongside other top youth leaders.

Chanting "President Malema", and singing "Burn Zuma", Malema supporters threw rocks at Sapa's photographer, Werner Beukes, two eNews journalists Belinda Moses and Cathy Mohlahlana, a Citizen photographer and The Star photographer Boxer Ngwenya.

A policeman was taken to hospital after being hit in the face.

A T-shirt and posters bearing a picture of Zuma were set alight, as well as ANC flags.

A City Press journalist tweeted that one poster stated: "Zuma a rapist."

"It flies in the face of what the leadership has called for - disciplined behaviour," ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said earlier.

"It is not disciplined, [it is] criminal. We have seen journalists being pelted. We have also seen even our police being pelted with stones, and all types of things.

"We are therefore saying this is unacceptable and we put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the ANCYL."

Businesses close

Several businesses closed their doors as supporters started fires next to the roads and broke off pieces of concrete barriers.

"I was so frightened," said Nuraan Holand, the manager of Wimpy in Pritchard street.

She said people were banging on the windows and threw glass at the windows, demanding to come inside.

"I thought they were going to get in so we decided to close down."

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas as supporters broke into several groups, threatening to break through the barbed wire set up around Luthuli House.

Eight street blocks around the ANC's office were closed off to prevent protesters from entering the building.

Yellow tape used to close streets around the ruling party's headquarters was cut loose. The doors to Luthuli House had been closed while the shutters in front of the windows were half-way down.

ANCYL members tried to get into the building but were stopped at the corner of Sauer and Pritchard streets by heavily armed police.

Curious onlookers gathered on rooftops to witness the action.

A youth league member yelled through a speaker, urging members to be disciplined, but no one seemed to listen.

Rubbish bins were set on fire and broken bricks were hurled at police Nyala armoured vehicles as three police helicopters hovered over the area.

Water was used to try and control the crowds, causing several protesters to slip and fall.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos
Read more on:    anc  |  ancyl  |  jackson mthembu  |  julius malema  |  gwede mantashe  |  johannesburg  |  protests  |  politics

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