High drama at Bloemfontein court as police confront Ace Magashule supporters

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ANC secretary general Ace Magashule appears at the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court.
ANC secretary general Ace Magashule appears at the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court.
Frikkie Kapp, Gallo Images
  • Ace Magashule's first appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court was marked by scuffles outside the courthouse.
  • Police officers had to prevent Magashule sympathisers from rushing into the court building.
  • Carl Niehaus, vocal backer of the ANC secretary-general, was forcibly removed as he tried to enter court via a side entrance.

The first court appearance of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was marked by high drama outside the courthouse as top party leaders and prominent members were refused entry into the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court.

National executive committee member Tony Yengeni, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, Mpumalanga secretary Lindi Ntshalintshali, former transport minister Joe Maswanganyi and MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus all tried to wrestle their way into court as police formed a human chain preventing entry.

Soon afterwards, party members were seen dragging barbed wire erected by police. They accused officers of bias, saying they treated white protesters more softly.

An irate Yengeni, squeezed into the middle of a chaotic crowd, was seen screaming for police not to intimidate him, shouting that he had "fought for this country".

At one stage, the party leaders managed to wriggle their way into the court building, but they were swiftly removed by security with their tails between their legs.

Magashule's supporters donned ANC party colours and carried placards that called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to step down.

Tents selling party regalia were erected at Loch Logan Park. Party members who were bussed in from different provinces held a vigil on Thursday night.

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At least 2 000 supporters were camped outside the court by midday, singing songs in support of Magashule.

Speaking to the media, Mahumapelo said some party leaders were treating him and his associates like "skanks".

"We are treated as skanks and pariah in our own organisation. We hear it, we see it, we can feel it unfolding but today we just want to focus on the court," he said.

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Intimating that there was a plot against Magashule which was orchestrated immediately after he was elected at the ANC's Nasrec conference in 2017, Mahumapelo said it was up to ANC members in branches to decide what to do about the developments within the party.

"We have the necessary stamina and commitment to make sure that throughout this trial, we will stand behind our leadership. We want to find out the genesis of these charges; where do they actually emanate from. We know from politics there is no development in politics that is innocent, but we are not rushing to any conclusion. When we identify role players behind the whole thing, the concocters, the plotters, we will reveal them," he said.

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Niehaus, who reacted to the scuffle between party members and police, accused the police of provocation.

"I get the distinct impression police were deliberately briefed to be provocative and to try and create an impression that ANC members were behaving in a disorderly manner," he said.

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