Disgruntled ANC members were sjambokked by their own comrades, klapped and chased away during the chaos that followed their march to the party’s regional offices in Pretoria on Monday afternoon.
It was a case of brother versus brother when aggrieved members from various branches in Tshwane descended on the MBA Building and threatened to storm into the offices in Arcadia.
They sang Struggle songs and danced while ANC staff members and officials, including head of security Terrence Mashego – also Tshwane’s member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for community safety – looked on.
Police stood at the entrance of the building to prevent demonstrators from invading it.
In the scuffle to reach the main door, at least two marchers were slapped as they tried to force their way in.
The angry crowd barred workers from leaving the building. Those not brave enough watched the stand-off through the windows and balconies.
Mashego told the Pretoria News that as head of security, he would protect the ANC and had asked the police to disperse the crowd.
“Some of these people are not members of the ANC. I saw some who work in waste management and should be at work at this moment,” he said. “It is regrettable to see an SACP leader and councillor among them while he should be here defending us. This reflects ill-discipline.”
By then, staff members had stood up to the demonstrators and burst into a song of their own, insulting the demonstrators and calling them amagwala (cowards) and izinja (dogs).
The tension exploded after Abraham Mashishi, who was among the demonstrators, pulled out a gun. He is a prominent businessman and was an apartheid-era police officer, according to Paul Mojapelo, ANC regional secretary.
Stones, bricks and other missiles were hurled in the direction of staff members, who ran for cover into the building while journalists headed for the basement.
Police fired into the crowd, while another group wielding sjamboks emerged from the building and chased after the fleeing demonstrators. An official warned photographers against taking photos as men with sjamboks captured and dragged a woman into the basement.
Pandemonium broke out in the streets in and around the building as onlookers, passers-by and the demonstrators ran in different directions, with the officials and police in pursuit.
Several people were injured at the hands of the sjambok-wielding officials.
One man was so badly injured he had to be taken by ambulance to hospital.
Apson Makaung, the councillor referred to by Mashego, blamed the attacks on a gang with links to the MMC.
Makaung said the building was a breeding ground for corruption.
Mashego challenged him to prove these claims.
He said anyone with evidence of wrongdoing should open a case.
Mashego said the disgruntled members should not confuse matters of the ANC with those of the municipality led by Kgosientso Ramokgopa, mayor and ANC regional chairman.
Ramokgopa said the actions by people purporting to represent ANC branches dissatisfied with the audit of branches before the regional conference in October demonstrated the desperate measures employed to undemocratically unseat the current leadership.
Mojapelo said while the ANC remained open to discussion of any dissatisfaction with the internal processes, the action of these individuals who were not party members deserved the harshest condemnation and disassociation.
“The identified group is led by the same persons who in the recent months orchestrated service delivery protests with informal traders and street traders.
Last month, two people were stabbed when angry members disrupted a party meeting at Sammy Marks council chamber. Similar scenes happened when a branch meeting turned violent in Mamelodi a few days ago.
Disgruntled members of the ANC are demanding:
* The national executive committee monitors the ANC caucus in Tshwane and ensures meetings are run democratically.
* All comrades dismissed, suspended and removed unfairly be reinstated.
* Regional and provincial nomination list be nullified and any member in good standing be allowed to participate.
* All names of deployments be verified and approved nationally.
* ANC deployees in the region be reshuffled.
* Regional leadership be dissolved.