Malema blames Zuma, ANC for EFF member's shooting at rally

2016-05-25 11:55

Komatipoort - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commander-in-chief Julius Malema has blamed the African National Congress (ANC) and President Jacob Zuma for an incident in which an EFF member was shot during a rally held in Mpumalanga on Tuesday.

EFF marshal Senzo Thwala was shot and injured in the leg when he tried to prevent a man he described as wearing an ANC T-shirt from entering the KaMaqhekeza stadium in KaMaqhekeza (formerly Naas) outside Komatipoort on Tuesday afternoon.

"[President Jacob] Zuma went to the IEC and signed a pledge. He said publicly [that] the ANC will not intimidate everyone, but behind this truck [there's] a person who was shot today by the ANC. I'm going to write a letter to the IEC to tell them that the ANC does not want free and fair elections.

"We are not scared of them, because we can also use guns. But we cannot use guns to determine the victory of our people. We want peaceful elections. We want a municipality that is elected by the people," said an angry Malema after the incident.

No arrests

The South African Electoral Code of Conduct prohibits anyone from unreasonably preventing any person access to voters.

Thwala alleged that his assailant, who had been escorting an ANC councillor earlier in the day, had refused to be searched before entering the stadium where Malema was due to address an election rally.

"They [ANC supporters] occupied the open ground not far from the stadium, where our meeting was to be held, claiming that they would be having a soccer tournament. We then moved our meeting to the stadium, and after we had set up, we were surprised when the same person who had come earlier tried to force his way into the stadium, claiming that they now wanted to play soccer inside the stadium.

"I requested to search him, like everyone else, but he pulled out a gun and started shooting at us. We ran in different directions, and I think that's when I got shot. I continued running, but fell down a few metres away," said Thwala.

No other injuries were reported on the day.

Tonga police spokesperson Mzwandile Nyambi said no arrests had been made.

"Yes, I confirm that an attempted murder case has been opened. No one has been arrested, and the police are still investigating," said Nyambi on Wednesday morning.

Fears of more violence

ANC provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu said he would ask for a report from ANC leaders in Nkomazi.

"I really don't know what happened, that is why I said I want a full report," said Ndlovu.

Last week, the Nkomazi municipality issued a letter preventing any kind of activity from taking place at all their stadia, in what was believed to be a ploy to prevent Malema from accessing voters.

The municipality denied the allegations, but allowed a soccer tournament to take place this past weekend in one of the stadia that had been affected by the ban.

The rally was part of the EFF's ongoing election campaign trail in Mpumalanga, and already there are fears of more violence after the ANC announced it would be holding yet another "soccer tournament" at the same venue where Malema will be canvassing for votes in Pienaar township, about 25km outside Mbombela city.

Earlier this month, the ANC in the Nkomazi area lost eight serving and former councillors who defected to the EFF.

'Criminality and nothing else'

Mpumalanga Electoral Commission of South Africa provincial electoral officer, Steve Ngwenya, said his office will only act once they have received an official complaint from the affected parties.

“We have agreed that all parties should have access to public facilities to an extent that we have asked the chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) to sit in our provincial political liaison committee, so that if there are any issues of access, he can deal with the municipalities.

"The unfortunate thing is that the EFF has not made use of that opportunity. They haven’t written to us about these incidents. As far as I know this issue has never been raised [with us],” said Ngwenya.

However, he acknowledged receiving a call from EFF secretary-general, Godrich Gardee, and said he advised him to make a written submission to the IEC, after which a meeting between the ANC and EFF will be held and an investigation instituted.

Ngwenya dismissed the shooting as a common criminal act.

“The shooting is criminality and nothing else. Police really need to deal with that, but the pattern of preventing other parties to use public facilities, that is also not acceptable in terms of our Electoral Code,” said Ngwenya.

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