WATCH: 'We will return,' say eThekwini mayor's supporters after day of violence, arrests

2019-07-11 18:09
eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede (Gallo Images)

eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede (Gallo Images)

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It was a day of running battles and high emotion as embattled mayor Zandile Gumede's supporters and the police clashed in Durban on Thursday.

More than 20 people were detained, arrested or injured by late afternoon.

Morning clashes saw seven supporters being arrested, one journalist detained and another manhandled outside City Hall, where around 500 supporters of the eThekwini mayor had assembled.

After a brief midday recess at Gugu Dlamini Park in the CBD, Gumede's supporters marched on the ANC's headquarters and then Durban Central police station to call for the release of their arrested comrades.

However, more clashes ensued, with the police firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at the group preventing them from reaching the police station.

After a tense stand-off between Gumede's supporters and the authorities, the group resolved to return to Gugu Dlamini Park, but not before allegedly emptying municipal bins in the road. This appears to be the reason behind the arrest of a further 20 or so supporters. 

The supporters' spokesperson, Sduduzo Magwaza, said they would not give up despite the arrests.

"We are going to focus on those who have been arrested. We are going to regroup and plan our way forward. This is not the end of it. We are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure she [Gumede] comes back to her office. We will make sure the municipal manager resigns."

He said the arrests were unfortunate.

"We are resolute in our demands. We still believe there is no legal standing that can prevent the mayor from coming back to do her work."

Magwaza said any issues pertaining to tender irregularities sat with Sipho Nzuza, who is eThekwini's municipal manager.

"He is solely responsible for the administration of the City. He must take full responsibility for any wrong that has happened in the City. He must do the honourable thing and resign."

eThekwini's acting mayor, Fawzia Peer, condemned the protests outside City Hall after the building had to be evacuated. She said protesters went to numerous buildings demanding that workers leave.

"The behaviour of protesters is deplorable because the City was forced not to render services to its residents because our workers were intimidated.

"No matter how serious the grievances may be, this is unacceptable. This anarchy is unnecessary, and the issue of our mayor is being handled by the leadership of her political organisation and it has pronounced in that regard and that must be respected."

The embattled mayor's supporters took to the streets following a decision by the ANC's KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership to extend her special leave.

Gumede was placed on leave after her arrest for corruption relating to a Durban Solid Waste tender that was worth R208m.

The South African National Editors' Forum condemned the arrest of Independent Media political reporter Sihle Mavuso and the manhandling of eNCA reporter Siphamandla Goge.

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Read more on:    zandile gumede  |  durban  |  protests  |  corruption
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