Violence mars seminar on expropriation of land without compensation

An academic seminar on land expropriation without compensation was marred by violence on Monday after EFF and ANC members clashed on the Pretoria campus of the University of South Africa.

Several of the speakers, ranging from academics to members of various political parties, spoke on their stance on the land question in relation to whether or not the Constitution should be amended to allow for land expropriation without compensation.

'Sellouts and cowards'

Members of different political parties, including Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota, DA MP Gwen Ngwenya and PAC leader Luthando Mbinda, were heckled, jeered and booed by members of the audience during their addresses.

Audience members called Lekota a sellout and asked him to leave as he gave a lengthy address about the history of South Africa. He ended his speech on the subject of the Codesa talks. He said the ANC had made headway in reclaiming the country from the apartheid government. 

"It's easy to call us cowards, it's easy to accuse us of selling out when you don't know how we got there," said Lekota.

Things turned chaotic when EFF members in the audience interrupted the address of ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola, who said it was not unconstitutional to amend the Constitution.

Throughout Lamola's speech, he was jeered and heckled. Lamola was ultimately unable to finish speaking.

Angered by this, ANC members in the audience stood up and started singing in protest, halting the seminar. A scuffle then broke out as EFF members approached the singing ANC members, who were then forcibly removed.

ANC NEC member Ronald Lamola. (Sarel van der Walt/Netwerk24)

The programme directors of the seminar attempted to give Lamola another opportunity to speak but he eventually left after being unable to do so over the commotion.

As he left, he told reporters that the intolerant behaviour of the EFF supporters was unacceptable.

"They only want to listen to themselves and nobody else," said Lamola.

When Mandisa Mashego, who spoke on behalf of the EFF took to the podium, ANC members returned and started signing. A scuffle broke out as EFF members forcibly removed ANC members for a second time.

Mashego herself was heckled by her own party as she spoke on women's issues. Audience members wanted her to stick to the land debate.

One of the few people who weren't heckled was politician Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala. Litchfield-Tshabalala, who spoke in her capacity as a decolonisation scholar, called for a national referendum to expropriate land without compensation and said that those who took the land needed to pay reparations.

"We want out land and we want reparations with the interest accrued tied to it," said Litchfield-Tshabalala.

Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama said the Constitution would not be amended before the 2019 elections and argued that the EFF and ANC would only expropriate land that white people didn't want.

"Amend the Constitution before the elections, if you don't do that, we must declare you sellouts," said Mngxitama.

"If we want our land back, we must get organised and we take our land. We don't wait for Parliament."

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