Cope told to ‘leave Clermont’

2010-03-16 00:00

CONGRESS of the People, KwaZulu-Natal, is calling for the intervention of Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu and provincial police commissioner Monnye Ngobeni, after the alleged expulsion of its members from Clermont township, west of Durban, over the weekend.

Members of Cope, from Clermont’s KwaShembe settlement, said on Sunday that they had to flee their homes and seek refuge at the local police station, after armed ANC supporters allegedly forced them into a “kangaroo court” meeting, where they were told to leave the area or “face the consequences”.

“We had to sleep at the police station and other comrades fled their homes and slept with relatives after about 100 armed ANC supporters told us to leave Clermont.

“We tried to ask for protection from the police, but they said they could not guarantee our safety and advised us to leave the area,” said Cope’s Clermont chairwoman Zoleka Gumbi.

Gumbi said the police deliberately failed to protect her and 32 other members who were forced by an armed mob to flee Clermont.

Some people who were part of the mob are known to the victims, but the police, who were present when the incident happened, allegedly failed to act against them.

“The police also refused to help us open cases against them even though we know some of the perpetrators. We don’t know what motivated them to do that, as they are supposed to act impartially and provide security for all of us. Policemen who are known to me said they could not protect us, as they were outnumbered by the mob,” said Gumbi.

It is not the first time that Cope has made harassment claims against ANC supporters in Clermont in the past two weeks.

On March 7, a rally to launch two Cope branches in the area, which was going to be addressed by Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota, had to be relocated to a former “white suburb” of Ashley in Pinetown, after organisers received threats.

On February 28, the launch which was held in Clermont had to be abandoned, after it was allegedly invaded by armed people who said Cope was not welcomed in Clermont.

Cope’s provincial secretary, Philip Mhlongo, appealed to Mchunu and Ngobeni to intervene to ensure the safety of the party’s members.

“We want full-time deployment of security personnel in the area until stability is reached, and the promotion of political tolerance through a dialogue between the ANC and Cope under police supervision,” said the angry Cope leader.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said: “We are aware of the incident. Currently no case has been opened. They [Cope members] are at the police station opening cases and we will confirm when we have analysed them to check whether there are elements of crime.

“It is all lies that they were told by police they were going to be attacked. It’s outside our scope to do such a thing,” said Mdunge.



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