July unrest: Tearful alleged instigator Ngizwe Mchunu says he was 'targeted' for showing support for Zuma

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  • Alleged July 2021 unrest instigator Ngizwe Mchunu shed tears when he appeared in court.
  • He told the magistrate he was frustrated by the postponement of the case.
  • He said he was arrested for expressing his freedom of expression.

"I'm respecting the court. If you want to arrest me, arrest me. If you hang me, so be it."

These were the words Ngizwe Mchunu used when he addressed a packed Randburg Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. He is accused of instigating the unrest in parts of the country in July 2021.

Clad in an isiZulu regalia, he told Magistrate RG Sadiki in isiZulu that the case had been impacting his life negatively.

Supporters who accompanied him were also clad in traditional gear and they sang traditional songs, lit impepho (traditional incense) and sprinkled each other with intelezi (a herb for protection). They left their sticks and spears outside the main entrance when they entered the building.

Special project | July unrest: One year later

Traces of impepho smoke went into the court building.

Mchunu shed tears in court and used a towel to wipe them.

After he heard that the case would be postponed, he told the magistrate: "I respect the laws of the country. There are South Africans who respect the rule of law. It's the only hope we have. There is a lot of political interference from politicians. As a poor man from Nkandla, I have suffered a lot.

Ngizwe Mchunu
Ngizwe Mchunu flanked by his supporters outside the Randburg Magistrate's Court.

"If I won't be able to make it to court tomorrow, there will be problems. I was only expressing [myself after] the arrest of a freedom fighter, [former president] Jacob Zuma. I was only practising my freedom of expression.

"I don't know who caused the [July 2021] disaster. After not finding the culprit, they (the police) targeted me. I am a noble South African citizen who never fought, nor was arrested before."

READ | Trial of alleged July unrest instigator Ngizwe Mchunu set for October

"I am a cultural activist. Zuma is from my village. We were only expressing [displeasure at his arrest] as neighbours. President Cyril Ramaphosa never spoke [against Zuma's arrest].

"That is the reason I am here, my lord. These postponements may be a result of political interference. I have met with [Police Minister Bheki] Cele and asked him why I was arrested. He replied that I knew why I was arrested."

He added:

Can this matter end? If I may be arrested, then I must be arrested now. I respect the rule of law. How many criminals are out there? Illegal miners are raping women in this country, and they are not arrested. The law is arresting innocent people like myself (sic). I thank the court for giving me the space to talk.

"I'm an ordinary citizen who raised his voice. Can you imagine the cost I incurred? I'm not a businessman."

Sadiki responded: "I hear you. We have to follow the procedure. I have made a ruling that I marked this [postponement] final. We will ensure that [at your next appearance] we proceed with this matter."

Mchunu faces charges of inciting public violence and breaching the Disaster Management Act.

He is scheduled to appear in court again on 5 December.

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