Political unrest has been blamed for this accident on the N2. (JP Smith)
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town and the African National Congress have started playing the blame game following protests that closed the N2 near Cape Town International Airport on Friday.
Member of the mayoral committee for safety and security JP Smith put the protests down to disputes over the ANC’s candidate lists for the August 3 local government elections.
"It can't carry on," Smith told News24 on the side-lines of a community policing conference in Delft.
"At the moment people are being harmed, their vehicles are being smashed, buses set alight - for a fight that really is a private fight in one organisation," said Smith, who is a Democratic Alliance councillor.
"None of the people who were harmed in their vehicles, who were inconvenienced, who got stuck on the N2, were part of that leadership fight."
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But the ANC vehemently dismissed Smith's claim, saying the protests had nothing to do with the party, and pointed the finger back at the DA.
ANC member suspended
"JP Smith and his cronies have this growing trend where if there are reported incidents, they call in the ANC to come and resolve it. We reject that," said ANC spokesperson Yonelo Diko.
"The DA is governing this city. If they are not fit to govern, they must tell us."
After a similar protest on Wednesday, where two buses and a truck were destroyed and some motorists robbed, GroundUp reported that the protest was over accusations that Bongani Ngcombolo had been forced on them as a candidate for Ward 40 in the upcoming elections.
On Thursday, the ANC announced that it would suspend a member who was allegedly an instigator of Wednesday's protest.
But Ngcombolo told News24 the protests were by faceless people, who he believed were trying to create opportunities to loot.
"Not everybody is pleased with my nomination, but they accept it," he said.
'He's talking rubbish'
John Mfusi, ANC provincial executive committee member suggested that it might actually be DA supporters trying to get people to come over to their side.
He pinned the blame on Ses'khona People's Rights Movement co-founder Loyiso Nkohla, saying he was trying to get more people to go over to the DA with him.
In June, Nkohla confirmed that he had endorsed the DA. He could not join yet because he has a criminal record for throwing faeces on the floor at the airport, and on the steps of the Western Cape Legislature in as part of a protest campaign to get better toilets for communities in the metro which have been using portable toilets.
Ses'khona has no official political position, but has an affinity with the ANC. Its chairperson Andile Lili is in the ANC's provincial structures.
"He is talking rubbish. I had nothing to do with that," said Nkohla.
"They are just wasting our airtime. In fact we are going to bury them in the August 3 elections," said Nkohla to the ANC's claim.
Courtney Sampson, provincial electoral officer for the Electoral Commission, told News24 earlier this week that in the run up to the elections there might be attempts to turn protests into campaigning.
'Somebody might lose a life'
The commission had also observed that the many layers of interests and organisations affiliated to political parties might make it difficult to immediately identify who to speak to to resolve a problem.
The ANC has repeatedly told supporters that according to Electoral Commission rules, nothing can be done to change their candidate lists.
Smith commended the ANC's announcement on the suspension of a member on Tuesday, but said that based on news reports, the ANC supporters have said they will carry on protesting until the list issue was addressed.
The ANC was also blamed for widespread protests and looting in Tshwane recently. This was after National Assembly chairperson Thoko Didiza was announced as the mayoral candidate for the metro, over Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
Smith vowed that the city would find the people behind Friday's protest, based on their public statements.
"Fortunately that public admission of guilt allows us now to take action, so I have asked the city's special investigations unit to go and identify those members.
"Because we can't have more days like this. Next time somebody might lose a life, so it is imperative that we act on this."