Barricade stops ANC, IFL tensions from escalating

2009-04-22 00:00

Armed SA Police Service and military police intervened to defuse tensions between IFP and ANC supporters in Wembezi near Estcourt yesterday when a small group of IFP supporters tore down ANC flags and blocked entry to voting stations in Wembezi’s C Section and nearby areas.

Police kept careful watch over areas in and around Estcourt amid fears that intolerance might spill over into violence.

IFP supporters chanted anti-ANC slogans and sang songs taunting ANC provincial chairman Zweli Mkhize, who had earlier visited polling stations in the area earlier. Mkhize shook hands with some ANC supporters before visiting KwaMasuku polling station, just a stone’s throw away from the C Section station.

There a group of people told Mkhize that IFP supporters had taunted and intimidated them.

Mkhize proceeded to Emahashini, a section adjacent to C Section. There IFP and ANC supporters stood on opposite sides of the road barricaded by heavily armed police officials. ANC supporters alleged they were prevented by the IFP supporters from casting their votes. Mkhize proceeded to monitor various areas in and around Estcourt, including Emabhanoyini, Imbabazane and Ntabamhlophe.

“Emotions are pretty high,” he noted, and there was “a huge presence” outside the voting stations. “Such a situation could easily erupt and … people are beginning to fear.”

Mkhize said that if the situation erupted, police would handle it, but he hoped no incidents would occur.

uMtshezi (Estcourt) council’s IFP chairman, Bhekithemba Dlamini, said he was not impressed with Mkhize’s allegations that people have been intimidated.

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