South Africa – Mashaba and EFF to lay charges against ANC over Midrand community meeting violence

News24 2017-04-19 14:22

Herman Mashaba. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24, file)

Herman Mashaba. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24, file)

Johannesburg – Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says he will be laying criminal charges against 10 African National Congress councillors for allegedly leading and fuelling violence during a community forum in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

This comes after an Integrated Development Plan (IDP) summit that Mashaba was hosting at Midrand High School on Tuesday night was disrupted by a group of individuals.

Mashaba said a number of people were hurt, including two who were left with head injuries, following the violence which broke out as a result of the disruption.

Among the injured was an Economic Freedom Fighters member who sustained a gash to the head, and Democratic Alliance Ward 112 branch chairperson Andrew Osmond, who was hit with a brick on the back of his head. Osmond was taken to hospital with concussion.

“Disgracefully, this attack on our democracy was led by ANC councillors in the City of Joburg,” Mashaba said.

“The City of Joburg is left with no option but to lay criminal charges against ANC councillors who were leading this assault on our democracy and fuelling the violence.”

Mashaba said the charges would include damage to property and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The Johannesburg metro police were called in to quell the violence.

Blaming ANC ‘unfortunate’

Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said three officers who were trying to stop the violence, including a senior official who had a chair thrown at him, were also injured.

He said the meeting, which was chaired by council speaker Vasco da Gama, continued after order was restored.

No arrests had yet been made, but the incident would be investigated further, Minnaar said.

Johannesburg ANC spokesperson Jolidee Matongo told News24 that it was unfortunate that Mashaba had chosen to place the blame on ANC councillors, and said the party would defend the officials.

“Nothing of the sort happened,” he said.

He said, shortly after Da Gama put the meeting on the record, a resident stood up to raise a point of order before Mashaba could begin his address.

“When the mayor was about to speak, a citizen of the area raised a point of order to indicate his concern to say: ‘When we are told that today we are going to get a consolidation of a report of the IDP session of the ward in your area, how do they [do it] because in some of the wards only three of the 11 wards in the area had the IDP engagements? The other wards didn’t have, so if you say you are bringing a consolidated input from the region, where does it come from?'”

After this question was asked, Matongo said members of the EFF – dressed in the party’s regalia – attacked the man who had raised the point, instructing him to sit down.

“That is when the violence started,” he said.

Disruptions ‘ongoing, planned strategy’

He said the only people at the meeting dressed in their political party attire were the DA and the EFF. Members of the ANC had gone there in their plain clothes because they had been told that the meeting was being hosted by the city, and was not a political party event.

“We issued an instruction to all ANC members not to disrupt, but to make inputs on what they need to see happening in the city on the IDP. If you go there, you go there as members of the public to make inputs there,” Matongo said.

However, EFF’s regional secretary Silumko Mabona told News24 that the disruption was one of many that the ANC had carefully orchestrated to ensure that the IDP meetings would not yield any results.

“This is an ongoing and planned strategy that is being used by the ANC greater Johannesburg, in terms of all the public participation meetings that have been planned by the city.

“They have managed to collapse… [at least] 80/90% of these ward-based meetings,” Mabona said.

He said such disruptions had started as far back as two months ago, when the IDP sessions began.

“It’s something that has been taking place where ANC members will just make sure that the meeting collapses.

“So it has been a challenge that’s been going from all the regions of Johannesburg, including Orange Farm and parts of Soweto, they’ve managed to collapse those meetings.”

Intimidation

Mabona said this left the actual community at a disadvantage, as they could not raise matters that they wanted the city to resolve.

“What was quite unfortunate is that the community is the ultimate loser because… they don’t have water; they don’t have electricity and they would like the City of Johannesburg to move [on these issues],” he said.

Mabona said three EFF members had been seriously injured in the violence and would be getting medical attention.

The party would also lay criminal charges against the ANC, he said.

“Because now it’s clear intimidation from the ANC, they don’t want the public to be participating in such forums.

“Ours was to make sure that the public participates and that they get all their views across and that was halted and violated by ANC members disappointingly.”

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