- Chaotic scenes marred what was meant to be the first day of the ANC's much-anticipated Free State conference.
- Instead of getting underway, six arrests were made outside the Imvelo Safari Lodge in Bloemfontein where the elective conference was meant to take place.
- Numerous injuries were also reported as disgruntled delegates clashed with law enforcement officials.
The much-anticipated Free State ANC elective conference was yet to get underway on Friday evening as violent clashes with law enforcement officials marred proceedings.
The drama-filled day culminated in six arrests, numerous injuries, and an eleventh-hour change in the registration venue, with the national and provincial leadership citing security concerns as motivating factors.
Disgruntled ANC members stormed the outdoor registration venue at the Petrus Molemela Stadium precinct.
The aggrieved members, according to ANC national executive committee deployee David Mahlobo, raised concerns over rightful delegates elected by branches allegedly having been changed and replaced by bogus individuals to retain the incumbent members in the interim provincial committee (IPC).
Mahlobo said part of the concerns were that there were individuals who were determined not to let the conference sit.
He added these rogue elements would not succeed, and the national leadership had been working tirelessly to ensure provincial leaders understood the conference should result in the betterment of the communities and not them getting positions.
Mahlobo said because of the attempts to try and derail the conference by stopping the registration process, a decision had been taken to move the registration venue to an undisclosed location.
The temporary suspension of the registration process and later the non-disclosure of the new venue resulted in confusion, with some delegates making their way to the conference venue, Imvelo Safari Lodge, which is located a few minutes from the Bloemfontein CBD.
On arrival, the delegates were denied access by law enforcement officials.
Clashes later ensued between the police and a large group of ANC delegates, leaving several injured and at least six people arrested.
Police, Roads, and Transport MEC William Bulwane, who tried to defuse the rapidly escalating situation, told News24 "four males and two females have been arrested".
He said he would get a briefing from the police and would brief the media later on what led to the confrontation.
Mahlobo added the national and provincial leadership had agreed during urgent consultations that the provincial leadership "should be visible and not participate or encourage the deep divisions" that were playing themselves out.