ANC, SACP members in bloody fight

2015-01-25 17:57
(Sizwe sama Yende, City Press)

(Sizwe sama Yende, City Press)

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Johannesburg - ANC and SACP members in Mpumalanga traded blows and fired gunshots after clashing at KaNyamazane township outside Mbombela on Sunday, City Press reports.

Many are being treated in clinics and hospitals, while others are laying charges against each other at the police station in the area.

The fight erupted on Sunday when African National Congress members, wearing the party’s regalia, stopped the South African Communist Party from entering the KaNyamazane hall where former Mpumalanga premier and ANC treasurer-general, Mathews Phosa, was expected to give a memorial lecture on the late Mbombela council speaker, Jimmy Mohlala, and SACP stalwart, Joe Slovo.

Both parties’ members stood a distance from the hall, on opposite sides, and kept chanting provocative slogans against each other for over two hours.

Police tried to intervene and broker peace.

ANC and SACP regional leaders were also present and tried in vain to talk with their members.

The fight started with minor, occasional skirmishes here and there that were dissolved.

ANC members barged into a preparatory meeting of the SACP and threw chairs at the party’s leaders.

As time went by the tensions simmered - with each group hurling insults at the other.

SACP members, reinforced with brand new pickaxe handles, forced their way into the hall and that was when their alliance counterparts followed them and a fight ensued with bricks, stones and bottles flying in all directions.

Gunshots were also fired. The police’s tactical response unit managed to disperse the warring crowds.

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Relationship frosty

Relations between the ANC and the SACP in the province have been frosty for many years.

The SACP has been demanding that Mpumalanga premier and provincial ANC chairperson David Mabuza step down as a result of rampant corruption in government, which the party said was perpetrated by "lumpen tenderpreneurship" that led to political assassinations.

Mohlala was shot dead in 2009 for blowing the whistle on the R1.2bn Mbombela stadium tender.

He was a speaker of Mbombela council and a member of the SACP.

Six years later, no one has been jailed for Mohlala’s death and the Mbombela fraud and corruption case appears to be crumbling in the hands of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

By inviting Phosa to speak, the SACP seemed to have hit a raw nerve with the ANC supporters because he had recently submitted a dossier to Luthuli House that suggested Mabuza may have been an apartheid spy.

Mabuza has threatened to sue Phosa for R10m and has lodged a complaint with State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

He also asked President Jacob Zuma to appoint a commission of inquiry to probe the allegations, but the presidency has been reluctant to indicate if Zuma will do so.

Before the fight, SACP Ehlanzeni secretary Bhobert Nkosi told City Press that the party met with the ANC’s regional executive committee on Thursday and they were told to call the lecture off.

"They warned us that there will be disturbances and something bad was going to happen if the lecture went on. They said we should cancel because Phosa and [our provincial secretary Bonakele Majuba] hated and were fighting Mabuza," Nkosi said.

"But Phosa is the only person in Mpumalanga who spent time with Comrade Slovo and naturally we could only get him to speak," Nkosi said.

Ehlanzeni’s ANC secretary Phazamisa Mathe said the party’s leadership was there to give a message of support to the SACP, and distanced itself from the unruly members.

“We’re shocked by this behaviour. The ANC can’t decide who the SACP must call,” Mathe said.

'I was shot'

Vusi Mlombo was shot in the index finger as he tried to pull Nkosi away as the ANC crowd pelted him with an assortment of weapons.

“I saw Nkosi running and assisted him to run away but then I was shot. I was just a neutral member who came to the lecture,” he said.

Nkosi was seriously injured and rushed to hospital for treatment.

'This is un-ANC behaviour'

Phosa did not come to the lecture after receiving warnings from the SACP that the situation was too volatile.

“This is the first time I hear that ANC members have attacked SACP members since we came back from exile. This doesn’t make sense at all. Even if it was the DA or anybody else, this could not be right. It’s criminal and disciplinary action needs to be taken,” Phosa said.

“My question is – what do they fear to go to the extent of disrupting a lecture? Are they not interested in why the killings are taking place?” he added.

Read more on:    sacp  |  anc  |  mbombela

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