Police officer hospitalised, youth rioter arrested

2011-08-30 12:07

A police officer was hospitalised and a rioter arrested after ANC Youth League members, including some schoolchildren, ran riot in downtown Joburg.

Joburg Metro Police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said the rioter was arrested for public violence.

Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini confirmed that a police officer was injured, but said he did not know of any other injuries.“He [the officer] was hit on the head with a rock and has been taken to hospital. I’m not sure of his condition,” said Dlamini.

He insisted that “everything was under control”.

Minnaar said it was unclear how many people had been injured, but Sapa journalists on the scene said at least five members of the media – including Sapa photographer Werner Beukes, two eNews journalists, Belinda Moses and Cathy Mohlahlana, The Star photographer Boxer Ngwenya and Citizen photographer Michel Bega – were hit by rocks thrown by supporters of youth league leader Julius Malema.

Sapa editor Mark van der Velden confirmed that Beukes had been hit in the back by a rock thrown by unruly elements in the crowd. Beukes was not badly injured.

“This is clearly a case of assault. I will be following this matter up through the appropriate channels,” said Van der Velden. The window of an eNews broadcast van was broken when protesters hurled objects at it. The crowds grew in their numbers as the day progressed, with a group of scholars, accompanied by a band in school uniform, arrived on the scene.

The crowds alternated between standing behind the barbed wire fencing, running around and marching around the city, singing songs like “Jacob Zuma you are a coward”.Malema’s supporters carried mostly colour printed placards stating: “Hands off Malema, our leader.”

A handwritten one addressed to the disciplinary committee read: “You are trying to please your master – AfriForum. You have declared war!”.Two others said: “Mugabe/Gaddafi are supporting ANCYL” and “Zuma must fire Bheki Cele or resign”.

Cele, the national police commissioner, who was recently criticised by the public protector for the “unlawful” signing of a lease agreement, arrived at the ANC Headquarters, Luthuli House, earlier in the day.

Several businesses closed their doors as Malema supporters caused chaos.Standard Bank had a sign outside saying: “Closed due to emergency circumstances.”

Malema was facing a disciplinary hearing today alongside league spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, league deputy president Ronald Lamola, secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, his deputy Kenetswe Mosenogi and treasurer general Pule Mabe.

The charges include bringing the ANC into disrepute and sowing division in ANC ranks.

Malema recently said the league would send a team to Botswana to consolidate local opposition parties and help bring about regime change, as it believed the government there was “in full cooperation with imperialists” and was undermining the “African agenda”.

Last year, Malema pleaded guilty in an ANC disciplinary hearing after he publicly criticised ANC president Jacob Zuma.The national disciplinary committee at the time said that should Malema be found guilty of provoking serious divisions or a break-down of unity in the organisation within the next two years, his membership of the ANC would be suspended.

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