‘A turning point in the history of SA’

2017-04-10 09:49
Employees of Blu Gel hair salon held a demonstration to ‘spread love for the rainbow nation’ on Friday on New England Road.

Employees of Blu Gel hair salon held a demonstration to ‘spread love for the rainbow nation’ on Friday on New England Road. (Sabelo Nsele)

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Pietermaritzburg - Those who took part in protests in KZN on Friday have described the events as a turning point in South Africa’s history.

The political tension, especially in Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding Midlands area, was evident with thousands taking to the streets in support for and against President Jacob Zuma.

At least five demonstrations organised by civil society organisations and political parties were held in the city on Friday, while others were held in Howick and Nottingham Road.

A large banner reading “Zuma Must Go” was spread across the Ashburton bridge during the early hours of the morning.

As the day progressed, about 200 ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members clashed with anti-Zuma protestors who were part of a march arranged by civil rights organisations and the Democratic Alliance outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

The confrontation quickly intensified after Youth League members — who had gathered from as early as 6 am on Langalibalele Street as part of their “traffic mob” — spat foul language at demonstraters, set a DA gazebo alight and flung eggs into the crowd.

Police were forced to intervene and officers hurled stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

One Youth League member was arrested afterwards.

ANCYL regional secretary Thembinkosi Zondi claimed their members were harassed by the DA while they were going to the park behind the city hall to get food and relax after finishing their picket.

DA deputy provincial leader Mergan Chetty said the party would lay charges of intimidation, harassment, theft and damage to property.

Another pro-Zuma picket organised by the Black Economic Foundation was also abandoned.

Small groups of residents and employees of various local businesses also staged pickets throughout the city.

After the clash with the ANCYL, the DA staged another placard demonstration along with residents at the centre of the traffic circle on Chatterton Road.

More than 200 people turned up, some urging motorists to hoot if they wanted Zuma to resign.

Hudreds gather in Howick

Hundreds of Howick residents also gathered at Howick Falls on Friday in a single call for Zuma to step down.

After grouping together, the crowd split into smaller groups and gathered along Howick’s Main Road, waving placards calling for Zuma’s resignation.

Howick resident Di Hamman, who was with her young son, said she was protesting on behalf of him and her future grandchildren.

“It is up to us as concerned citizens and parents to take a stand and say enough is enough,” said Hamman.

More than 300 people also gathered at a school sports field in Nottingham Road to create a video encouraging South Africa’s leaders to govern selflessly and with integrity.

One of the organisers, Kim McNally, said the aim was not only to encourage people to have the strength to turn away from corruption and greed, but also to build up our economy so that all South Africans can prosper.

“Today, class and race melt away. Imagine that extended into tomorrow and beyond,” said McNally.

The concerned but hopeful and enthusiastic volunteers spent their day creating a “Mannequin Challenge” video which they planned to disseminate over social media with the hopes of “tugging on the heart strings” of every South African.

“We wanted to do something that conveyed our message in a peaceful and impactful way. Our short video pans through participants in various poses representing key words, courage, solidarity, integrity, support, love and giving, and then takes a bird’s eye view,” McNally said.

One volunteer, Christopher Silk, said their initiative is a good way to show the nation that it is possible for South Africans to stick
together and stand up for the each other.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pietermaritzburg  |  protests

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